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been forbidden him, xxxvi. 5. This fact and the final crisis, which the fourth year of Jehoiakim formed in the destiny of his people as well as in his own prophetic work, explain how it was, that in this very year he received the divine command to collect in a book the prophecies respecting Judah and the heathen which he had uttered up to this point, in order that this review of his testimony might, if possible, lead to repentance the people which had now the beginning of the fulfilment before its eyes, ch. xxxvi. Baruch, his trusty disciple (cf. ch. xlv.), was helpful to him in the writing, and read Jeremiah's message to the people publicly in the temple. When discharging this office in the fifth year of Jehoiakim on a great fast-day, he was interviewed, as xxxvi. 9 ff. relates in detail, by the princes, who carried the news of the incident to the king. Jehoiakim burnt the roll on the spot, and commanded the prophet and his helpers to be seized. But they, on the advice of the princes, had already concealed themselves, and at once at God's bidding wrote the book anew, so that it soon appeared again in an enlarged edition.
Jehoiachin, or Coniah as he is called in our book (see on xxii. 24), son and successor of Jehoiakim, reaped what his father had sown. After this eighteen-year-old prince had reigned three months (2 Kings xxiv. 8; on the other hand, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 9 says eight years, perhaps a scribe's error), the enraged Nebuchadnezzar appeared before Jerusalem and carried him away along with the best part of his people to Babylon (xxiv. 1, xxix. 2). Since Jehoiachin shared the unhappy infatuation of his father (2 Kings xxiv. 9),—and ch. xiii., which seems to fall in the months of his reign, shows that sinful self-deception prevailed to the last, and the word of the Lord was despised,—Jeremiah forewarned him in the most express terms (xxii. 20-30) of his dismal fate, not without betraying heartfelt sympathy with the misfortune of the frivolous though not ignoble youth. The appendix, ch. lii., concludes, like the Book of Kings, with an advancement, which this prince was permitted to enjoy in the thirty-seventh year of his imprisonment at Babylon, Hi. 31 ff.
Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar raised to the throne, was the youngest son of Josiah (Jer. i. 3, xxxvii. 1), uncle of Jehoiachin (2 Kings xxiv. 17), and was called Mattaniah before he came to the throne. His almost eleven years' reign (598-588 B.C.) sealed the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, cf. 2 Kings xxiv. 19 f. (Jer. lii . 2 f.). Instead of seeking help from the Lord and preparing the way of salvation by righteous administration of justice, and cleansing divine worship from its many heathen corruptions, this worldly-minded prince gave loose rein to everything evil, and trusted for deliverance to revolt against the Babylonian power, from whose generosity he had received the throne. Thus he belonged to the bad shepherds, whom the prophet contrasts with the good one (xxiii. 1-8), who bears the name like Zedekiah, but honours it in a different way. In regard to the political situation, Jeremiah's message from first to last pointed out, like a stedfast magnet, to the king the same course as the only safe one, namely, sincere subjection to Babylon's suzerainty as long as it was the Lord's pleasure to allow it to continue. But Zedekiah was always of the opposite mind, or complied against his will. In his fourth year, perhaps when Elam was giving trouble to the Chaldean empire (cf. xlix. 34-39, belonging to this time), he planned, along with the neighbours named in xxvii. 3, a revolt from Babylon (xxvii. 1, read Zedekiah's instead of Jehoiakim's), which undertaking Jeremiah was forced strongly to oppose by word and act, chs. xxvii., xxviii. He illustrated his prophecy in striking fashion by carrying about a yoke, and sealed it by announcing the speedy death of an opponent, who defied Yahveh's word, which sign was fulfilled within the given time. Into that fourth year falls also the journey of the king to Babylon, when the oracles respecting that city were read by a trusty friend of Jeremiah and sunk in the Euphrates, li. 59-64, •which presupposes the existence in substance of the part, chs. l., li . The journey took place rather after than before the conspirings at Jerusalem, see on li. 59. On the other hand, the vision, ch. xxiv., and the letter to Babylon, ch. xxix., spring from the first years of Zedekiah. When finally, despite every warning, the revolt of Judah from Babylon actually took place, the nobles of Judah relying especially on Egypt, the Chaldaean army came in Zedekiah's ninth year to take revenge. What Zedekiah's prospects were, the prophet at once foretold to him, xxi. 1-10, and repeated incessantly during the long siege, xxxiv. 1-7, 8-22, xxxvii. 1-10, 17-21, xxxviii. 14 ff. Only, he said, in instant surrender to the generosity of the hostile ruler is there deliverance for the king and the city, which without question will fall into the hands of the Chaldaeans. But the king, who was visibly impressed by the surprising turn of events which had confirmed and fulfilled Jeremiah's words, recognising divine truth in them, was now too flippant and vain, now too cowardly and hopeless, to act on this conviction.
Thus he allowed the prophet at one time to be abused by his enraged foes almost to death, at another he interposed to protect him. Jeremiah's suffering reached its climax under this king, especially during the siege of Jerusalem. The military leaders of the nation, who had long been very angry at the discouraging effect of Jeremiah's addresses, used the opportunity, when he wished, during an interruption in the siege caused by the approach of an Egyptian army (in which interval also the narrative of xxxiv. 8 ff. falls), to visit his native place, to treat him as a deserter, and to cast him into close confinement, where he lingered a long period (xxxvii. 11 ff.). Jeremiah used an interview with the king, who had secretly sent for him, to beg a milder imprisonment, which he found in the " guard-court" belonging to the royal citadel (xxxvii. 17 ff.). There he passed a tolerable existence, everything necessary for his support being provided; here also he was able to exercise his prophetic office, and indeed at this time oracles, for the most encouraging, were vouchsafed to him. Chs. xxxii. and xxxiii. are expressly dated in this period of imprisonment, and chs. xxx. and xxxi. also seem not to be much older. The prophet's gaze, too, fell again and again on the heathen world outside. Ch. xlvi. 13-28, the second oracle against Egypt, is best assigned to the years of the siege of Jerusalem. But the prophet had to encounter a still worse design on his life during this time, as told in ch. xxxviii. Those leaders of the nation, who hated him on account of his preaching, which weakened the power and spirit of resistance, finally decided to remove him out of the way when they saw that he continued, from the guard-court also, to exercise an influence in their view full of peril. They used a weak moment of the king to request full authority to deal with Jeremiah, and then let him down into a cistern covered with mud, where he must have perished miserably if speedy help had not come. Help, however, was given him by a court - official Ebed - melech, who was able quickly to change the king's mind, and brought the prophet back to his former abode. Cf. on this, xxxix. 15-18. Here he remained until the capture of Jerusalem.
After the catastrophe Jeremiah was treated with forbearance at Nebuchadnezzar's special command (xxxix. 11 ff., xl. 1 ff.), since the king knew well how strongly the prophet had again and again protested against the revolt from Babylon and resistance to its power. The "captain of the guard," who was entrusted with the royal commands in Jerusalem, left him free to proceed to Babylon or to stay in the country. He chose the latter, since the trustworthy Gedaliah, who was appointed governor by the Chaldfeans, seemed to be a new and promising centre for the remnant of Judah. This hope, alas! came to nothing in a few weeks. Gedaliah was assassinated in his palace at Mizpah, where Jeremiah also had settled, by a malcontent Jewish noble, Ishmael, who was instigated to the crime by the Ammonites (xl . 7 ff., xli. 1 ff.). This Ishmael, who intended to carry away the defenceless dwellers in Mizpah as a rich prize to Ammon, was indeed compelled to relinquish his booty and to take to flight before the Jewish forces which hurried up. But a general panic seized those who were left. What was to become of them, if the Chaldaeans came to take revenge for the murder of their deputy? It was decided not to wait for this, but to migrate at once to Egypt, if possible, with the entire remnant of the nation found in the country, so as to be safe from the dreaded Chaldaeans. In the camp at Bethlehem, where the people assembled before departing, Jeremiah was asked for a divine oracle on the question (xlii. 1 ff.). His answer, ten days later, was a complete prohibition of this migration-scheme, and an exhortation to remain in the land in obedience to the Lord. But the leaders adhered to their plan; the fear of the Chalilacans was universal; and thus the prophet was obliged here also to see his good advice, which was really God's advice to his people, rejected under futile pretexts and suspicions (xliii. 1 ff.). The departure took place; Jeremiah also was forced to join in it; they came to the city of Tahpanhes = Daphne, in Lower Egypt.
That God spoke to him and through him even there on foreign soil among a fragment of his people, scattered and rejected of God, is proved first by xliii. 8-13, and again by his last testimony (ch. xliv.) uttered several years afterwards (yet before 570 B.C.). If the prophet was about twenty years old on his call in the thirteenth reign of Josiah (about 028), he had now reached the advanced age of from seventy to eighty years. He probably died not long afterwards in Egypt. The patristic story, that he was stoned by his own people at Daphne (Hieron. Adv. Jovin. ii. 37; Tertull. Contra Gnost. c. 8; Pseudepiphanius, De Propk c. 8; Dorotheus, p. 146; Isidorus, Ort. et Obit. Patr. c. 38), is unattested; and so is the Eabbinical one, that he was taken to Babylon along with