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the Ninevite king would appear to have left Judaea undisturbed. Meanwhile Psammetichus reunited Egypt under his sovereignty, and during his long reign (B.C 658—605) succeeded in making his country extremely formidable to its Jewish neighbour. In his time Manasseh died, Amon his son followed for two years, and was succeeded by his son Josiah, whose reign was marked by an outward reformation of morals and renewal of religious rites long in abeyance. In the 6th year of his reign the Scythians, who had marched into Palestine, were checked by Psammetichus and induced to return. Thus the Scythian incursion had made no real difference in the political position. Judaea was still wavering between the old established power of Egypt, whose prestige had been fully restored under Psammetichus, and the rapidly growing Eastern power, at present lodged at Nineveh, but soon to be transferred to Babylon.
The manner in which external nations affected Judaea in time's subsequent to Jeremiah's call to be a prophet we shall trace later.
4. The social condition of Judaea at the time of the prophets call. The religious reform of Hezekiah's time had been followed by a terrible reaction in the reign of Manasseh. "He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord" (2 Chron. xxxiii. 5), he set up an idol in the Temple itself and dedicated his sons to Moloch by making them pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom (ibid. ver. 6). His subsequent repentance, of which the Books of Chronicles tell us, seems to have come too late to have much permanent effect upon the ordering of the kingdom, and no improvement was likely under such a man as his son Amon shewed himself to be during "his brief reign. This was the state of affairs when Josiah came to the throne. The land was now recovering from the effects of the frequent and destructive attacks of the Assyrian monarchs, and its continued rest in the earlier years of Josiah was in itself favourable to the plans of that king for his country's moral and spiritual welfare. With good advisers in Ahikam, Hilkiah and others, and with a nation probably more than half weary of idolatry and its attendant evils, even before the alarm was sounded by the discovery of the lost Book of the Law, it was an opportunity not to be neglected for an attempt at the revival of religion such as Josiah undertook. And yet the reformation, as in the time of Hezekiah, seems not to have penetrated much below the surface. The picture which Jeremiah draws of the condition of the people, of the prevalence of dishonesty, of open licentiousness, of murder, adultery, false swearing, is such that never does there appear to have been more need than then of one who should convict men of their sins, and stir them to a sense of the requirements of the Divine Law.
5. yeremiaKs call and stibsequent history. We cannot say whether Jeremiah at any period of his life received a formal training in the schools of the prophets instituted by Samuel and existing at Ramah, Bethel, Jericho, Gilgal, and elsewhere. They answered in some respects to our Theological Colleges, and the chief subjects of study were the Law, music and sacred poetry. The sacred narrative itself would suggest that Jeremiah, so far as human means wentj was prepared for his work rather by the instruction and associations which he would have in Anathoth, and was thence called direct to the task of declaring the will of the Almighty to His disobedient people. In particular the discovery of the Book of the Law by Hilkiah, made a few years after Jeremiah's call, but apparently before he had entered upon his life's work, must have made much stir at his native town, as we know that it did in Jerusalem. Whatever portion of the five Books of Moses, as we now possess them, it may have contained, it must, we are sure, have included those graphic pictures which stand in Deut. xxviii. of the punishments which were to follow neglect of God and lapse into idolatry. That Book made upon Jeremiah a profound impression, of which we see the fruit in the references to and quotations from it which abound in his prophecies1. The
1 Compare ii. 6 with Deut. xxxii. 10; v. 15 with Deut. xxviii. 49, etc.; vii. 33 with Deut. xxviii. 26; xi. 3 with Deut. xxvii. 26; xi. 4 with Deut. iv. 2p; xi. 5 with Deut. vii. 12, 13; xv. 4, xxiv. 9, xxix. 18, xxxiv. 17 with Deut. xxviii. 25; xxii. 8, 9 with Deut. xxix. 24—26; xxiii. 17 with Deut. xxix. 18, etc.; xxxiv. 13, 14 with Deut. xv. 12.
solemn covenant entered into by the nation (2 Kings xxiii. 3) must have fixed itself deeply in his mind and heart. "The king went up into the house of the Lord... and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments... with all their heart and with all their soul...and all the people stood to the covenant." These solemn words and the no less significant acts that followed, contrasted as they were with the state of wickedness which existed around the prophet, wrought upon his mind that effect, which God employed as the means of calling forth his declarations of impending woe, and thus making him the typical prophet of sorrow, and a derivative from his name (jeremiad) a synonym for lamentation.
6. It was under such circumstances as these that the actual call occurred, and in a form evidently altogether unlooked for. It does not come to him in the shape of a vision of the Divine Majesty as to Isaiah (chap, vi.), or of the mysterious living creatures and wheels within wheels such as was given to Ezekiel (chap. i.), but without startling symbol or ecstatic trance the command is received. He shrinks from the prospect, not from fear of the innocent blood which the Jews, following the example of their late king Manasseh (2 Kings xxi. 16), "shed very much," but from honest distrust of his own power to take the lead and deal boldly and successfully with the evils of the day, gaining a hearing and producing an impression by the power of his language joined to the solemn import of his message. The Lord reassures him, touches his mouth, and sends him forth as His prophet to the nations. The visions, by which He strengthens his hands and suggests the burden of his prophecy, we shall treat in their place in chap. i.
7. Jeremiah now addresses himself to the impurity and crime which he sees around him. The worship of Baal and Astarte, and the unholy pleasures to which that worship ministered, were the subjects at once of bitter mourning and of stern rebuke. The example of the Gentiles around stimulated the Jews to break through all restraint, and the sacrifice of their children to Moloch -was but the attempt of an alarmed conscience to atone for other crimes. The restoration of the Temple and celebration of the Passover Jeremiah tells them are of no avail so long as their hearts are as foul as they were before. Nothing short of a complete amendment can avert the calamities of which they read in the newly discovered Book (vii. 4—7). Such was Jeremiah's teaching during the eighteen years which lay between his call and the death of Josiah. There is but little of incident to record during this period. He presented himself from time to time "rising early and speaking" (xxv. 3), and was exposed to "reproach and derision daily" (xx. 8). The men of Anathoth itself sought his life (xi. 21), and his brethren "dealt treacherously" with him (xii. 6). He is sometimes inclined to be silent and leave the world to take its course,seeing that he was but "a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth" (xv. 10). Towards the end of Josiah's reign the question arose whether he should side with the new Chaldaean power or with Egypt. Jeremiah declared for the former, and Josiah going forth in obedience probably to this decision of the prophet to arrest the progress of Pharaoh-nechoh, son of Psammetichus, who was marching against Chaldaea, was slain in battle at Megiddo.
8. Jehoahaz (the Shallum of chap. xxii. 11), Josiah's son and successor, reigned but three months. He was the second son of Josiah, and probably on account of his personal qualifications was raised to the throne in preference to the eldest son Jehoiakim. In accordance with the custom of all kings whose title was disputed, he was anointed with the holy oil, as though he were the founder of a new dynasty, and adopting what appears to have been another custom of that period (a custom which has been adopted also by the Popes) he assumed a new name (Jehoahaz = the Lord possesses), which was probably intended to serve as a charm or happy omen1. If so, it grievously failed of its object. In spite of the consequences of his father's opposition to Egypt he maintained 1 Stanley's Jewish Church, II. 447.
the same policy, as is shewn by his being presently carried off by Pharaoh-nechoh to Riblah, while the land was put under tribute (2 Kings xxiii. 33). Although he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord (ver. 32), Jeremiah speaks of him, as of his father, with kindness and sorrow. "Weep sore for him that goeth away, for he shall return no more, nor see his native country" (chap. xxii. 10).
9. Jehoiakim, another and elder (2 Chron. xxxvi. 2, 5) brother, was placed on the throne by the king of Egypt and reigned eleven years (according to the received chronology B.C. 609—597), during which period Jeremiah occupies a most important position. The favour of the court was no longer, as in the days of Josiah, and probably in those of Jehoahaz, on the side of the godly. Jehoiakim " did evil in the sight of the Lord " (2 Kings xxiii. 37). He laid exorbitant tribute upon the people of the land, already impoverished by war, and desired apparently to surpass even the palmy days of his predecessor Solomon in the magnificence of the palaces which should mark his reign and minister to his comfort. Forced labour, the exaction of which had produced much discontent even in Solomon's time (1 Kings xii. 4), excited still more indignation in the present condition of the people. Their new king's desire for his own glorification and neglect of the worship of God is the subject of a striking portion of Jeremiah's writings, viz. chap. xxvi., and also chap. xxii., "Woe to him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work: that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion" (xxii. 13, 14). The disregard of religion on the part of the king was thus the means of effecting a speedy separation between the true servants of God and the empty professors. The latter fall back into idolatry and wickedness; the former are refined by the adversity, and their faithfulness shines the more brightly.
10. Real and not pretended service is the lesson which Jeremiah in the above chapters enforces, and in so doing he