Jeremiah 22 – Speaking to the House of David
A. The Message to the House of David.
1. (1-5) An urgent call to repent.
Thus says the LORD: “Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates! Thus says the LORD: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David. But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,” says the LORD, “that this house shall become a desolation.”’”
a. Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David: Jeremiah continued the prophecy from the previous chapter, directed to the house of David. This was a word specifically for the king. He should take sober care to listen because he sat on the throne of David.
b. Execute judgment and righteousness: Jeremiah’s first message to the king was very much like the message began in the previous chapter (Jeremiah 21:11-12). Speaking for God, he called upon him to perform his responsibilities as king in a godly and righteous way. This command assumes there was great corruption and injustice at the highest levels of the kingdom.
c. If you indeed do this thing…. But if you will not hear these words: Jeremiah warned the king that repentance and the doing of justice would be rewarded; rejection would be punished. The choice was again set before Judah and her rulers.
i. “We are close enough to the message sent back to King Zedekiah to suggest at first sight that we are still dealing with the same man. But it seems more likely that this paragraph was a much earlier message, to another king, since there was still time for the house of David to recover strongly.” (Kidner)
2. (6-7) The coming judgment.
For thus says the LORD to the house of the king of Judah:
“You are Gilead to Me,
The head of Lebanon;
Yet I surely will make you a wilderness,
Cities which are not inhabited.
I will prepare destroyers against you,
Everyone with his weapons;
They shall cut down your choice cedars
And cast them into the fire.
a. You are Gilead to Me, the head of Lebanon: These were choice regions in or near the Promised Land. God used these valued places to show how valued the house of David was to Him.
i. “High and happy, as those fruitful mountains, famous for spicery and other things desirable.” (Trapp)
b. I will prepare destroyers against you: God emphasized the point that He would not fight for them against the Babylonians. Instead, He would fight against them, preparing the soldiers Himself.
3. (8-9) The nations ask why.
And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, ‘Why has the LORD done so to this great city?’ Then they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.’”
a. Why has the LORD done so to this great city? Jeremiah pictured the people of the nations seeing the destruction of Jerusalem and wondering why. Were these not the people of God? Was the God of Israel weaker than the god of the Babylonians?
b. Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them: The answer to the question of the nations was simple. It was because Judah departed from the LORD, forsaking their covenant with Him. Their idolatry led to this destruction.
B. The Message about the Sons of Josiah.
1. (10-12) The message about Shallum (also called Jehoahaz).
Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him;
Weep bitterly for him who goes away,
For he shall return no more,
Nor see his native country.
For thus says the LORD concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: “He shall not return here anymore, but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.”
a. Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him: These poetic words were spoken regarding the death of King Josiah and the exile of his son Shallum (also known as Jehoahaz).
· The dead refers to King Josiah, killed in battle at Megiddo.
· Him who goes away refers to Jehoahaz (Shallum) who succeeded Josiah but was almost immediately deposed by Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:31-35). He was the brother of Jehoiakim.
i. “Jeremiah tells the nation at large that they need not mourn the death of the godly king Josiah (22:10), who had been slain at the Battle of Megiddo in 609 BC.” (Feinberg)
b. Concerning Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah: Jeremiah said that the fate of Shallum in exile was worse than the more heroic death of his father Josiah in battle.
i. “One of Josiah’s sons, succeeding after 609 BC when Josiah was killed at Megiddo. He reigned for three months before being deposed by Necho, was taken to Riblah and then to Egypt where he eventually died (cf. 2 Kings 23:33f.; 2 Chronicles 36:4).” (Harrison)
2. (13-17) The Message to Jehoiakim.
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness
And his chambers by injustice,
Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages
And gives him nothing for his work,
Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers,
And cut out windows for it,
Paneling it with cedar
And painting it with vermilion.’
“Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink,
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
Then it was well.
Was not this knowing Me?” says the LORD.
“Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness,
For shedding innocent blood,
And practicing oppression and violence.”
a. Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness: In the custom of Israel’s prophets, Jeremiah confronted Jehoiakim for his greed and injustice. He said that he and others of the house of David were guilty of:
· Unrighteousness and injustice.
· Cheating working men (gives him nothing for his work).
· Selfish and indulgent luxury (I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers).
· Presumption (Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar).
· Not following the good examples of their forefathers (Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness).
i. “Faced with a crippling tax imposed by the Egyptians, he extracted this from his subjects by heavy taxation (2 Kings 23:33 ff.) and then embarked on a lavish palace-building scheme, forcing his subjects to work for nothing.” (Cundall)
ii. Who uses his neighbor’s service: “There is a strong democratic note here in that the king is called the fellow [neighbor] of his builder.” (Thompson)
iii. I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers: “Its width of space could not obliterate the memory of the forced and unpaid labour by which it had been reared. And God would plead and avenge the cause of those oppressed labourers.” (Meyer)
iv. Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? “Scathingly, Jeremiah asks Jehoiakim (22:15a), ‘Does building palaces of cedar make you a king?’” (Feinberg)
b. Was not this knowing Me: Jeremiah called upon Jehoiakim to remember his father Josiah, who enjoyed a modest life as a king and did justice and righteousness. This was evidence of knowing God, not fancy palaces.
i. Did not your father eat and drink: “He lived well…and yet attended to the important kingly duties of justice and right.” (Thompson)
ii. Jeremiah spoke of a principle mentioned several other places in the Bible, especially in 1 John. The idea is that our love and knowledge of God can be accurately measured by how we treat other people, especially others in God’s family. The rulers of Judah did not know God at all because they did not live out His love and justice towards others.
· We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. (1 John 3:14)
· But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17)
c. Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness: Instead of knowing God they knew greed, violence, and injustice. They were indeed ripe for judgment.
3. (18-19) The judgment to come upon Jehoiakim.
Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
“They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’
They shall not lament for him,
Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’
He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey,
Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
a. They shall not lament for him: Jehoiakim was a cruel and greedy ruler over Judah. When his 11-year reign ended, no one was sorry.
b. He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey: Jeremiah spoke of a terrible judgment upon Jehoiakim – a king who died with no lament, no sorrow, and no dignified burial.
i. “2 Kings 24:6 gives no hint of this, but Jehoiakim’s death occurred whilst Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonians because of his rebellion. There is plausible support for the view that there was a palace revolt, when the king was assassinated and his body cast over the wall, indicating to the Babylonians that Jerusalem disassociated itself from his rebellious policy. Certain it is that Jerusalem escaped relatively lightly when it eventually surrendered.” (Cundall)
4. (20-23) A prophecy against Jerusalem and her rulers.
“Go up to Lebanon, and cry out,
And lift up your voice in Bashan;
Cry from Abarim,
For all your lovers are destroyed.
I spoke to you in your prosperity,
But you said, ‘I will not hear.’
This has been your manner from your youth,
That you did not obey My voice.
The wind shall eat up all your rulers,
And your lovers shall go into captivity;
Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated
For all your wickedness.
O inhabitant of Lebanon,
Making your nest in the cedars,
How gracious will you be when pangs come upon you,
Like the pain of a woman in labor?
a. Go up to Lebanon, and cry out: The prophecy turns to Jerusalem and to her rulers, who were destined for judgment because of their foolish idolatry and alliances. Looking to distant places – Lebanon, Bashan, Abarim – was foolish and destructive. Spiritually speaking, these were like adulterous lovers to Judah and now they were destroyed.
i. “Lebanon with its glorious forests was the very picture of beauty and prosperity, as was Bashan (22:20) with its rich pastures. As for Abarim (22:20) this was the mountain range in the south-east from which Moses had viewed the promised land.” (Kidner)
ii. “The ‘lovers’ are her political allies, who have been broken…Jerusalem was deserted, isolated, and alone.” (Thompson)
iii. “Jeremiah is calling on his contemporaries (included in Jerusalem, for the verbs are in the feminine gender) to mourn the disastrous results brought on the land by the foolish international policy of Jehoiakim.” (Feinberg)
b. I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, “I will not hear”: God’s people had much blessing and prosperity in the land of Israel. In many of those years of prosperity, God spoke to them but they refused to listen.
i. This is one of the great weaknesses and tragedies of the human condition. In prosperity we often refuse to listen to God and He only has our attention in seasons of woe. Nevertheless, better to hear God in our woe than to never hear and respond to Him at all.
ii. “Happy if we can yet add the postscript from Psalm 119:67, Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep thy word.” (Kidner)
c. Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated: Perhaps this would provide the environment where the people and rulers of Jerusalem would again listen to their God and reject the idols of the nations.
i. O inhabitant of Lebanon: “ ‘You who live in Lebanon’ refers to the king and his nobles in their cedar palaces.” (Feinberg) Their houses used so much cedar wood that they made their nest in the cedars.
C. The Message to Coniah.
1. (24-27) Coming exile for Coniah (also known as Jeconiah and Jehoiachin).
“As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return.
a. Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off: Perhaps Judah and the leaders of the house of David believed they were too loved by God to be judged. God here promised that even if they were as valued as the signet on God’s right hand, so judgment could and would come.
i. “Nothing can now prevent Jehoiachin’s exile, for in plucking off the signet God has rejected his leadership.” (Harrison)
b. There you shall die: God pictured His people being as precious to Him as the signet ring mentioned. Yet He would (so to speak) take the signet ring off and give it to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. They would be cast out of the land and die among the Babylonians – they shall not return to the Promised Land.
i. This was precisely fulfilled for Coniah (again, also known as Jeconiah and Jehoiachin). After a brief reign, he and other members of the royal family were taken to Babylon as captives (2 Kings 24:8-15).
2. (28-30) The curse on the line of Coniah.
“Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol—
A vessel in which is no pleasure?
Why are they cast out, he and his descendants,
And cast into a land which they do not know?
O earth, earth, earth,
Hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the LORD:
‘Write this man down as childless,
A man who shall not prosper in his days;
For none of his descendants shall prosper,
Sitting on the throne of David,
And ruling anymore in Judah.’”
a. Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol: Jeremiah asked this rhetorical question. The answer was, “Yes.” Coniah was worthless and associated with idolatry and would be associated with misery (a vessel in which is no pleasure) and his own exile (cast into land which they do not know).
i. A vessel in which is no pleasure: “The technical term for pot (22:28) describes a vessel of inferior grade, this being a sarcastic reference to the abilities and leadership of the young Jehoiachin.” (Harrison)
ii. A vessel in which is no pleasure: “That is, by a modest periphrasis [indirect wording], a close-stool [toilet], or piss-pot (so Hosea 8:8).” (Trapp)
iii. Cast out: “He was indeed deported (and his name can still be read on a Babylonian list of foreign prisoners and their rations of oil and barley).” (Kidner)
b. O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD: This was a unique and solemn introduction to a vow or promise of God.
i. “The repetition implies strongest emphasis, solemnity, and intensity.” (Feinberg)
ii. The Hebrew word here can also be translated land. Kidner suggests that in some ways earth is a better translation. “The old translation of verse 29 (AV) is uniquely impressive – ‘O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord’ – and while the first hearers were doubtless meant to take this word to heart chiefly in its narrower sense (O land…), we do well to give it its full scope.” (Kidner)
c. Write this man down as childless… for none of his descendants shall prosper: 1 Chronicles 3:17-18 lists the sons of Coniah. It wasn’t that he had no children, but that he should be considered as childless, because his descendants would be cursed.
i. Write this man down: “The command to ‘record’ relates to a register of citizens (cf. Isaiah 4:3); the figure is that of a census list.” (Feinberg)
d. For none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah: This was a unique and powerful curse upon the bloodline of Coniah. God promised that no blood descendant of Jeconiah would reign over Israel.
i. This is similar to the promise – perhaps even an extension of it – recorded later in Jeremiah 36:30 of Coniah’s father, Jehoiakim: Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.”
ii. These parallel prophecies present a problem. God promised David that his descendant would reign as Messiah over Israel and the world (2 Samuel 7:16). By the time of Jehoiakim and Coniah that descendant had not yet come, and here God seems to promise that it would be impossible for the descendant to come. If someone was a blood descendant of David through Jehoiakim, he could not sit on the throne of Israel and be the king and the Messiah because of this curse recorded in Jeremiah 22:30 and 36:30. But if the conqueror was not descended through David, he could not be the legal heir of the throne because of the promise made to David and the nature of the royal line.
iii. This is where we come to the differences in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. Matthew recorded the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ (Matthew 1:16). He began at Abraham and followed the line down to Jesus, through Joseph. Luke recorded the genealogy of Mary: being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph (Luke 3:23). He began with Jesus and followed the line back up, all the way to Adam, starting from the unmentioned Mary.
iv. “Matthew’s genealogy includes Jehoiachin but shows only who Jesus’ legal father was, not his natural one. Luke traces Jesus’ parental line through Nathan, a son of David, not through Solomon.” (Feinberg)