Jer. 22:1 ¶ Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
Jer. 22:2 And say, Hear the word of the LORD, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
Jer. 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
Jer. 22:4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
After reading through this chapter a few times, it seems to indicate that the time being referenced precedes the time of King Zedekiah; it seems to be addressed to his nephew, Jehoiachin, also known as Coniah, even though reference is made to the preceding kings beginning with Josiah.
The LORD sends Jeremiah to the king to deliver a message, but it was also intended for the ears of the people of Jerusalem. The message was one of exhortation and warning. The king is instructed to exercise righteous judgment, defend victims of crime, be kind and compassionate toward strangers, orphans and widows, and to stop the slaughter of innocents (a reference, I believe, to the child sacrifices offered to Baal).
This is basically a call for the people to return to keeping covenant before the LORD. These commands are representative of the whole, all of which were clearly detailed by Moses.
Deuteronomy 16:19–20 “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
Deuteronomy 10:17–19 “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 23:7 “Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.”
Deuteronomy 30:15–16 “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”
If the king and his people will submit to YHWH’s commands, He will ensure that Jerusalem will continue as a nation with their own kings ruling from the throne of David. It seems that the LORD continued to offer an opportunity for repentance and deferred judgment until the time of Zedekiah.
Jer. 22:5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
Jer. 22:6 For thus saith the LORD unto the king’s house of Judah; Thou art Gilead unto me, and the head of Lebanon: yet surely I will make thee a wilderness, and cities which are not inhabited.
Jer. 22:7 And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.
If, however, the king and the people continue to reject the LORD and disregard the message delivered by His prophet, Jerusalem will be destroyed. This too was clearly set forth by God through Moses.
Deuteronomy 30:17–18 “But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.”
I think it is important to note that the LORD shares His heart concerning His people. The NLT expresses it well: “You are as beloved to me as fruitful Gilead and the green forests of Lebanon.” The LORD loves His people and His temple in Jerusalem, but that will not deter Him from judging in righteousness if they continue to refuse to repent and turn back to Him in faith and obedience.
I think the reference to the enemy cutting down “thy choice cedars” is a reference to the destruction of both the King’s palace and the temple since they were built using the finest cedars of Lebanon.
1 Kings 9:10–11 “And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.”
“I swear by myself” – This is the highest authority by which He could swear. It is not a statement based on false pride; it is a statement of sovereign authority.
Jer. 22:8 And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this great city?
Jer. 22:9 Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.
It seems that Jeremiah is very familiar with the words of Moses and that the Holy Spirit readily utilizes that familiarity in God’s revelation of truth to His prophet.
Deuteronomy 29:24–25 “Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:”
The people could not claim ignorance in understanding the consequences of breaking covenant with the LORD and turning to the worship of false gods. They had been clearly instructed by Moses before ever being allowed to take possession of the Promised Land.
Even the heathen nations understood that disobedience to one’s “god” would result in incurring his wrath. The wording of both Deuteronomy and Jeremiah indicate that the nations considered the God of Israel to be unique from other gods.
Jer. 22:10 ¶ Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.
Jer. 22:11 For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more:
Jer. 22:12 But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.
I think these verses are in direct reference to the kings of Israel. The LORD is basically saying that you should not weep for “him” that had already died (Josiah—the good king, Coniah’s grandfather). One’s sorrow should be for the one who was taken into captivity never to see his homeland again (Shallum—also known as Jehoahaz who was taken captive to Egypt, an evil king, Coniah’s uncle).
I liked this comment from JFB: “Dying saints are justly to be envied, while living sinners are to be pitied.”
Jer. 22:13 Woe unto 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;
Jer. 22:14 That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is cieled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.
Evidently, the king was known for conscripting the people for labor to enlarge and beautify the palace complex without proper compensation. Again, this was in direct disobedience to God’s law.
Deuteronomy 24:14–15 “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.”
Jer. 22:15 Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
Jer. 22:16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the LORD.
I think the wording of the NLT gives clarity to verse 15: “But a beautiful palace does not make a great king! Why did your father, Josiah, reign so long? Because he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.”
In other words, the grandeur of one’s surroundings does not testify to one’s fitness to be king. It is how one rules his people before the LORD that determines one’s greatness as a king of Judah.
Jer. 22:17 But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.
Jer. 22:18 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!
Jer. 22:19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
This section of verses identifies King Jehoiakim as the king being referenced beginning in verse 13. Scripture identifies him as an evil king that was responsible for the death of many innocents, so it is not surprising that he would not be mourned at his death.
2 Kings 24:4 “…for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.”
The record in scripture is a bit confusing. It seems he was bound to go into captivity, but must have made a pledge of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar and was allowed to stay on the throne. After three years, he rebelled. Only in Jeremiah are we told that he was not given a proper burial. The IVP Dictionary offers this information: “His death occurred on the way to captivity (2 Ch. 36:6), apparently at the instigation of Nebuchadrezzar, who, according to Josephus (Ant. 10.97), had his body thrown outside the city wall as prophesied by Jeremiah.”
Jer. 22:20 ¶ Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed.
Jer. 22:21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
Jer. 22:22 The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.
This address seems to be in reference to the nation in general. “Thy lovers” would be a reference to those they thought to be their allies. The LORD is making the point that those they had looked to for strength had all been defeated. The LORD had consistently tried to get the people to repent before experiencing judgment, but their hearts had proven hard and their necks stiff. They refused to repent and turn back to YHWH in faith and obedience. This attitude had been prevalent since early on in their history as a nation.
I think the reference to the “wind” in verse 22 could be a reference to God’s anger after looking at the Hebrew. He is going to destroy the wicked leaders of the people and all their heathen allies would be taken captive. Eventually, the Jewish people would be made to recognize their wickedness to their own shame.
Jer. 22:23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, that makest thy nest in the cedars, how gracious shalt thou be when pangs come upon thee, the pain as of a woman in travail!
Jer. 22:24 As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
Jer. 22:25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
Jer. 22:26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
Jer. 22:27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
The “inhabitant of Lebanon” is a reference to the king living in his palace made of the cedars of Lebanon. The LORD seems to be saying that the king’s arrogance is going to turn to pain and suffering when judgment comes.
The signet ring was a sign of one’s authority and the right hand indicative of one’s strength and the place of honor. I think the LORD is saying that in spite of the fact that Coniah occupies the throne of David, a position established in authority, strength, and honor before the LORD, he is still accountable to YHWH. Because he has chosen to reject the God of Israel, he is going to be “given” to Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon (along with his mother) where he will die.
Jer. 22:28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
Jer. 22:29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
Jer. 22:30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
In reading through the different translations, it seems that the LORD is declaring that there is really no excuse for Coniah’s actions. His judgment is in accordance with God’s word. He gave YHWH no pleasure because he rejected God’s covenant. The LORD declares that no descendant of Coniah will ever sit on the throne of David as king in Judah. I think the CJB translation is most explicit: “List this man as childless; he is a lifetime failure — none of his offspring will succeed, none will sit on David’s throne or rule again in Y’hudah.”