Jeremiah – Chapter 22

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 22


The LORD told me this: Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and there deliver this message:


You shall say: Listen to the word of the LORD, king of Judah, who sit on the throne of David, you, your ministers, and your people that enter by these gates!


Thus says the LORD: Do what is right and just. Rescue the victim from the hand of his oppressor. Do not wrong or oppress the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.


If you carry out these commands, kings who succeed to the throne of David will continue to enter the gates of this palace, riding in chariots or mounted on horses, with their ministers, and their people.


But if you do not obey these commands, I swear by myself, says the LORD: this palace shall become rubble.


1 For thus says the LORD concerning the palace of the king of Judah: Though you be to me like Gilead, like the peak of Lebanon, I will turn you into a waste, a city uninhabited.


Against you I will send destroyers, each with his axe: They shall cut down your choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.


Many people will pass by this city and ask one another: «Why has the LORD done this to so great a city?»


And the answer will be given: «Because they have deserted their covenant with the LORD, their God, by worshiping and serving strange gods.»


2 Weep not for him who is dead, mourn not for him! Weep rather for him who is going away; never again will he see the land of his birth.


3 Thus says the LORD concerning Shallum, son of Josiah, king of Judah, who succeeded his father as king. He has left this place never to return.


Rather, he shall die in the place where they exiled him; this land he shall not see again.


4 Woe to him who builds his house on wrong, his terraces on injustice; Who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages.


Who says, «I will build myself a spacious house, with airy rooms,» Who cuts out windows for it, panels it with cedar, and paints it with vermillion.


5 Must you prove your rank among kings by competing with them in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink? He did what was right and just, and it went well with him.


Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, it went well with him. Is this not true knowledge of me? says the LORD.


But your eyes and heart are set on nothing except on your own gain, On shedding innocent blood, on practicing oppression and extortion.


6 Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, king of Judah: They shall not lament him, «Alas! my brother»; «Alas! sister.» They shall not lament him, «Alas, Lord! alas, Majesty!»


7 The burial of an ass shall he be given, dragged forth and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.


8 Scale Lebanon and cry out, in Bashan lift up your voice; Cry out from Abarim, for all your lovers are crushed.


I spoke to you when you were secure, but you answered, «I will not listen.» This has been your way from your youth, not to listen to my voice.


The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds, your lovers shall go into exile. Surely then you shall be ashamed and confounded because of all your wickedness.


You who dwell on Lebanon, who nest in the cedars, How you shall groan when pains come upon you, like the pangs of a woman in travail!


9 As I live, says the LORD, if you, Coniah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, are a signet ring on my right hand, I will snatch you from it.


I will deliver you into the hands of those who seek your life; the hands of those whom you fear; the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the Chaldeans.


10 I will cast you out, you and the mother who bore you, into a different land from the one you were born in; and there you shall die.


Neither of them shall come back to the land for which they yearn.


Is this man Coniah a vessel despised, to be broken up, an instrument that no one wants? Why are he and his descendants cast out? why thrown into a land they know not?


O land, land, land, hear the word of the LORD – 


11 Thus says the LORD: Write this man down as one childless, who will never thrive in his lifetime! No descendant of his shall achieve a seat on the throne of David as ruler again over Judah.


1 [6] Gilead . . . Lebanon: both were known for their trees; cf ⇒ Jeremiah 22:7.

2 [10] Him who is dead: Josiah. His successor, Jehoahaz, who is going away, was deported by Pharaoh Neco to Egypt, where he died (⇒ 2 Kings 23:33, ⇒ 34).

3 [11] Shallum: Jehoahaz is called this only here. Presumably it was his name at birth, while Jehoahaz was his royal name.

4 [13] Without pay: either by forced labor in public works, or inasmuch as workers were defrauded of their hire. Despite the impoverishment caused in Judah by the payment of foreign tribute, Jehoiakim embarked on a program of lavish building in Jerusalem (⇒ Jeremiah 22:14). Social injustice is the cause of much of the prophetic condemnation of the kings (⇒ Jeremiah 22:17).

5 [15-16] Josiah, the reforming king, prospered materially without oppressing his people; he embodied all the ideals of kingship.

6 [18] «Alas! my brother»; «Alas! sister»: customary cries of mourning.

7 [19] The burial of an ass: no burial at all, except to be cast outside the city as refuse. This prophecy regards the popular feeling toward Jehoiakim rather than the actual circumstances of his burial. According to ⇒ 2 Kings 24:5 he was buried with his fathers in Jerusalem. However, his grave may have been profaned by Nebuchadnezzar.

8 [20-23] The prophet first apostrophizes Jerusalem, which is bidden to scale Lebanon, Bashan, and Abarim, i.e., the highest surrounding mountains to the north, northeast, and southeast, to gaze on the ruin of its lovers, i.e., the false leaders of Judah, called its shepherds (⇒ Jeremiah 22:22); cf ⇒ Jeremiah 2:8. The year is 597 B.C., after Nebuchadnezzar’s deportation of Jehoiachin. Jerusalem still stands (⇒ Jeremiah 22:23), apparently as secure as the heights of Lebanon, but destruction is to follow (cf ⇒ Jeremiah 22:6).

9 [24] Coniah: a shortened form of Jeconiah, the name which Jeremiah gives the king called elsewhere in the Bible Jehoiachin. A signet ring: the seal used by important men – in a sense, their most valuable possession-mounted in a ring worn constantly on the hand. The Lord says that even were Jehoiachin such a precious possession, he would reject him. The words in ⇒ Jeremiah 22:24-30 date from the short three-month reign of Jehoiachin, before he was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar.

10 [26] You and the mother who bore you: the queen mother held a special position in the monarchy of Judah, and in the Books of Kings she is invariably mentioned by name along with the king (⇒ 1 Kings 15:2; ⇒ 2 Kings 18:2). Jehoiachin did indeed die in Babylon.

11 [30] Childless: Jehoiachin is so considered because none of his descendants will be king. From the Book of Ezekiel, who dates his oracles according to Jehoiachin’s fictitious regnal years, it is evident that the people expected Jehoiachin to return. The above prophecy of Jeremiah was uttered to dispel this hope (⇒ Jeremiah 28:4). Of the seven sons born to Jehoiachin in exile, none became king. His grandson Zerubbabel presided for a time over the Jewish community after the return from exile, but not as king.