Jer. 36:1 ¶ And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Jer. 36:2 Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.
Jer. 36:3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
This instruction from the LORD to Jeremiah is identified as being revealed in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim, heir of his father Josiah. Jeremiah is instructed to make a written record of all the messages that God had revealed to him against Israel, Judah and the nations. He is to be sure and begin with the very first message delivered to him in the days of Josiah’s rule.
The purpose: That the people of Judah might hear the whole and hopefully choose to turn from their evil ways and seek the LORD’s forgiveness for their sin.
I am always amazed that despite His omniscience, God is faithful to continue to provide His people every opportunity to repent. He proves Himself a faithful, loving Father who exhausts every means possible before resorting to harsh judgment. When His people look back on His dealings with them, they will have no grounds for accusing Him of impatience or unrighteousness in His actions.
Jer. 36:4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.
Jer. 36:5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the LORD:
Jer. 36:6 Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD’S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.
Jer. 36:7 It may be they will present their supplication before the LORD, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the LORD hath pronounced against this people.
Jeremiah immediately calls for his assistant and scribe, Baruch, the son of Neriah. Point is made that Baruch takes dictation from Jeremiah and that it includes “all” the words the LORD had given Jeremiah.
Since Jeremiah was apparently restricted in his movements, he was not permitted to go to the Temple and read from the completed scroll. So, he asked Baruch to go in his stead and read from the scroll publicly at the temple on the next day of fasting. He chose this time because it would be a day when the most people would be exposed to the reading. Jeremiah continues to hope that hearing the word of the LORD will result in repentance from their evil ways even though he has been prophesying well over 20 years at this point. He knows that God has pronounced judgment in anger upon His people because of their wickedness.
Jer. 36:8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading in the book the words of the LORD in the LORD’S house.
Baruch is shown to be a faithful assistant gifted with the boldness of Jeremiah regarding the proclamation of God’s word. He did exactly as instructed.
Jer. 36:9 ¶ And it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people that came from the cities of Judah unto Jerusalem.
Jer. 36:10 Then read Baruch in the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the higher court, at the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house, in the ears of all the people.
The events in this section take place at least nine months after Jeremiah’s instruction from the LORD to make the written record of his messages. Some commentators specifically pinpoint the date to December of 604 BC. I would assume this to be describing Baruch’s first reading of the scroll. A special fast day had been proclaimed for all who were in Jerusalem. Baruch positioned himself in the chamber of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan the scribe. It was located at the entry of the new gate and must have provided elevation to facilitate Baruch being seen and heard.
Jer. 36:11 When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the LORD,
Jer. 36:12 Then he went down into the king’s house, into the scribe’s chamber: and, lo, all the princes sat there, even Elishama the scribe, and Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, and Elnathan the son of Achbor, and Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes.
Jer. 36:13 Then Michaiah declared unto them all the words that he had heard, when Baruch read the book in the ears of the people.
When Gemariah’s son Michaiah heard Baruch’s reading of the scroll, he immediately went to report to the princes, the scribes in the house of the king. He then proceeded to tell them his version of all the Baruch had read before the people. The wording indicates that this was more than just a summary; he included as much as he could remember.
Jer. 36:14 Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, unto Baruch, saying, Take in thine hand the roll wherein thou hast read in the ears of the people, and come. So Baruch the son of Neriah took the roll in his hand, and came unto them.
Jer. 36:15 And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears. So Baruch read it in their ears.
At this point the princes sent their own messenger, Jehudi, to get Baruch and tell him to bring his scroll and present himself before them. Baruch complied. When he arrived, the princes asked him to sit down and once again read the scroll to them. Again, Baruch complied.
Note that there is no hint of fear or hesitation in Baruch’s responses.
Jer. 36:16 Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and other, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.
Jer. 36:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?
Jer. 36:18 Then Baruch answered them, He pronounced all these words unto me with his mouth, and I wrote them with ink in the book.
Jer. 36:19 Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.
Once the princes heard the contents of the scroll, they became afraid. They told Baruch that they would inform the king of God’s word.
It seems as though they were anticipating the king’s questions when they asked Baruch to tell them how the scroll had been composed. Baruch informed them that Jeremiah had dictated every word, and he recorded each word in ink on the scroll.
Again, in anticipation of the king’s response, the princes told Baruch that he and Jeremiah should go into hiding and not reveal their hiding place to anyone.
Jer. 36:20 ¶ And they went in to the king into the court, but they laid up the roll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the ears of the king.
Jer. 36:21 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
Jer. 36:22 Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
Jer. 36:23 And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
Evidently, the princes kept the scroll and left it in the chamber of Elishama, one of the scribes, when they went to tell the king all that they had heard. The king decides to send Jehudi to get the scroll and read it aloud before the king and his princes. We are told that this took place in the king’s winterhouse in the 9th month and are given no indication that it is not the same day the scroll was first read at the Temple. It sounds like the king only had the patience to listen to the first few pages (or leaves in the scroll) before he started cutting it up and throwing it into the fire until the whole scroll had been destroyed.
It stands out to me that Josiah’s son responded very differently than did Josiah when he heard the reading of God’s word.
2 Kings 22:11–13 “And it came to pass, when the king [Josiah] had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.”
Jer. 36:24 Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
Jer. 36:25 Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.
Jer. 36:26 But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.
Verse 24 indicates that the whole scroll was read even though it was destroyed in sections as it was being read. Neither the king nor his servants responded with the fear of the princes that first heard it. Three of the princes specifically pleaded with the king not to destroy the scroll, but to no avail.
Jehoiakim then ordered that Baruch and Jeremiah be taken into custody—“but the LORD hid them.” This is another of those examples where God steps in to miraculously ensure that his purposes are accomplished. The princes had encouraged Baruch and Jeremiah to go into hiding, and the LORD ensured that they were not found.
I am reminded of the many times that the Jewish leaders wanted to take hold of Jesus, but He was suddenly lost among the crowd and could not be found. God would not allow His Son to be taken into custody until His prophecies would be fulfilled according to the prophesied timeline.
Jer. 36:27 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying,
Jer. 36:28 Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.
The LORD again speaks to Jeremiah after the scroll had been destroyed and tells him to make another scroll containing all the words that had been recorded in the previous one.
Jer. 36:29 And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
Jer. 36:30 Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.
Jer. 36:31 And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.
This would have required a bit of time and allowed the king’s temper to cool down. The LORD instructs Jeremiah to go before King Jehoiakim. He is to ask him why he burned the scroll just because he didn’t like what it said.
Because he had treated God’s word so disrespectfully and, in turn, dishonored God, Jeremiah declares that Jehoiakim would have no heir to the throne of David; neither would his body be treated with a proper burial when he died. He and his descendants and his servants would all be punished for their sin. That punishment would be extended to include those living in Jerusalem and Judah because they chose to disregard the word of God. Other scriptures declare this same principle.
Proverbs 13:13 “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”
Isaiah 5:24 “Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
Note that though Jehoiakim’s son Jeconiah succeeded him to the throne, but it was for only three months. He was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and his uncle Zedekiah appointed as king. The Lord Jesus will be the next to assume the earthly throne of David, and He is not a blood descendant of Jehoiakim.
The king’s death and the capture of his son are recorded in Chronicles.
2 Chronicles 36:5–10 “Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried of the vessels of the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin [also called Jeconiah and Coniah] his son reigned in his stead. Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD….”
Jer. 36:32 Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.
As usual, Jeremiah immediately obeyed the LORD and dictated another record of his messages from God to Baruch. This scroll, however, contained more than what was in the previous scroll. This implies to me that the LORD revealed new messages for Jeremiah to share because we know that the first scroll was a complete record of the messages received until the time of its making. Point is made, however, that these messages were of like nature to the ones previously recorded.