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Jeremiah 26:1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from Yahweh saying-  Jer. 26:2-6 is a summary of the material in Jer. 7:1-15. The book of Jeremiah isn't arranged chronologically.

Jeremiah 26:2 Thus says Yahweh: Stand in the court of Yahweh’s house and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in Yahweh’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them-
This was probably not one of the outer gates, but one of the three gates which led from the inner court to the outer. Probably it was the gate where Baruch later recited the prophecies of Jeremiah, called "the new gate of the Lord’s house", located in the "upper" i.e. inner court (Jer. 36:10 cp. 26:10). Probably the time was one of the three great feasts, when the people of Judah would have come up to the temple.

Don’t diminish a word- Not only our salvation but that of others can be limited by our exercise of freewill. If others' salvation is not dependent upon our preaching, then there is no meaning to the very concept of preaching. This is true to the extent that a watchman can occasion the death of those he could warn, if he doesn’t do it. And their blood [for they will die] will be required at his hand (Ez. 33:8,13). The wicked will only turn from their ways if the watchmen warns them- and Ez. 33 shows clearly enough that the watchman can be lazy to fulfill his commission, with the result that some will die eternally who need not have done so. It’s not that another watchman is raised up to do the job- it is his responsibility, which he can discharge or not. God's word has been delegated to us; to not speak it forth is therefore in a sense to diminish His word. Hence Jeremiah is told to "keep not back a word" of all God's words (Jer. 26:2 AV; RV: "Diminish not a word"). Jeremiah is warned to “diminish not a word, if so be…” Israel may repent. His temptation of course was to water down the message which he had to deliver. But only the harder, more demanding side of God might elicit response in them. By making the message less demanding, it wouldn’t have any chance of eliciting a response.

Jeremiah 26:3 Perhaps they will listen, and turn every man from his evil way; so that I may repent Me of the evil which I purpose to do to them because of the evil of their doings-
ee on Jer. 18:8. God is willing to totally forgive the repentant sinner. He could just forgive men; it is within His power to do this. But He doesn’t. He allows His power to do this to be limited by the extent of our repentance. "If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them" (Jer. 26:3). Likewise "Repent ye therefore… and be converted, that your sins may  be blotted out... Repent therefore... and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may  be forgiven thee" (Acts 3:19; 8:22). The ability of God to forgive is controlled by our repentance ("that... may"). This is used by Peter as the source of appeal for men to repent.

Paul used the terror of possible condemnation to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11). Interestingly, the very words which Jeremiah was tempted not to speak forth, so stern was their message of judgment to come, were what had the power to lead Israel to repentance (Jer. 26:2,3).


Jeremiah 26:4 You shall tell them, Thus says Yahweh: If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you-
Properly 'listening' means 'walking' in practice. There is an acute difference between literally hearing and spiritually listening. The more familiar we are with the text of scripture, the stronger the temptation not to actually "listen". The law set before them may not refer to the Mosaic law, which was the basis of the old covenant which they had broken. Perhaps it refers to the new covenant, the new deal, which God through Jeremiah was setting before that generation.

Jeremiah 26:5 To listen to the words of My servants the prophets whom I send to you, even rising up early and sending them, to which you have not listened-
The emphasis is upon the prophets who were Yahweh's servants; because the false prophets were a major problem. The people preferred to listen to their words, rather than those of Yahweh's true prophets.

Jeremiah 26:6 then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth-
The ark had earlier been kept at Shiloh, and there the tabernacle was pitched (Jud. 18:31; 1 Sam. 1:3). God apparently destroyed the tabernacle there (Ps. 78:60) because of the kind of apostasy there practiced by Eli and his sons. Judah assumed that Jerusalem was inviolate, and was chosen by God over the worship system of the ten tribes in Samaria. But mere physical location and tradition do not make us inviolate to Divine judgment.

Jeremiah 26:7 The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of Yahweh-
The connection between priests and prophets was that the priests were to teach the word of Yahweh, and the false prophets gave them a false message to teach.

Jeremiah 26:8 It happened that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that Yahweh had commanded him to speak to all the people, the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold on him saying-
We note that "all the people" were connected with the false prophets and their preachers, the priests. The "people love to have it so", and therefore the priests and prophets said what the people wanted to hear (Jer. 5:31). This is why all society was to be punished.

You shall surely die- The words of condemnation spoken by God to Adam. They were not only playing God, saying what they thought and felt in the name of God; but we see how they considered any criticism of them to be the ultimate sin, like Adam's disobedience in Eden.

Jeremiah 26:9 Why have you prophesied in the name of Yahweh saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant? All the people were gathered to Jeremiah in the house of Yahweh-
The implication was that they considered he was just speaking his words, whereas the true word of Yahweh was what they were speaking. We see here the power released by a guilty conscience- a mass desire to shoot the messenger, to avoid by all means the confrontation with God which sinful living must provoke. The desire to shoot the messenger and discredit the message is the same in essence behind those who wish to rubbish the Bible as the words of men and not of God. This has a subconscious moral basis to it.

Jeremiah 26:10 When the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of Yahweh; and they sat in the entry of the new gate of Yahweh’s house-
The idea is that they sat in judgment. They heard the case brought by
the false prophets, priests and people. They heard the case in the temple rather than in the king's palace because it was distinctly religious, and they were seeking a death penalty prescribed by the Mosaic law.

Jeremiah 26:11 Then spoke the priests and the prophets to the princes and to all the people saying, This man is worthy of death; for he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears-
The princes were sitting in judgment, and the people were the audience. They were arguing that anyone who prophesied against Jerusalem was worthy of death. But it was God who had prophesied more than any against Jerusalem, through various prophets and not just Jeremiah. They were effectively wishing the death of God. See on :16 for the fickleness of "all the people".

Jeremiah 26:12 Then spoke Jeremiah to all the princes and to all the people saying, Yahweh sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that you have heard-
This is picking up on their idea that anyone who spoke "against this city" must die because they were speaking, therefore, against Yahweh. But Jeremiah's point is that Yahweh had repeatedly spoken against His own city, and even His own house. They were reasoning as if Yahweh was but a tribal deity, who would always defend his own temple and city. They viewed the true God through the lens of how gods and religion was generally viewed; and that again is a challenge to our age. 

Jeremiah 26:13 Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of Yahweh your God; and Yahweh will repent Him of the evil that He has pronounced against you-
Perhaps their "ways" refer to the well trodden ways and paths of thought within the mind, reflected in "doings". "Amend" is the word used of how Cain was bidden "do well", to amend his ways, and a sin offering was even provided for him (Gen. 4:7). Hereby Israel are set up as Cain, a parallel which the Lord (Jn. 8:44) and New Testament writers also perceive. Judah had "trimmed" or "ammended" their ways to seek relationships with the surrounding nations (Jer. 2:33 s.w.), willing to accept their gods and whatever cult obligations to them which were required. But they would not amend their ways for Yahweh. "Amend" is the word translated 'to do well to' in Jer. 7:23. If they amended their ways, God would amend or change His plans of judgment. Here we behold the openness of God, His deep sensitivity to human repentance and change.

God was prepared to relent (Jer. 18:8; 26:3,13,19; 42:10), and yet He says in Jer. 4:28 that He will not. This is not self-contradiction, but rather a reflection of the depth of how God's compassion is finally greater than His judgment of sin. The whole mental and emotional trauma made God weary of all the relenting, so deeply did He feel it (Jer. 15:6).


Jeremiah 26:14 But as for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as is good and right in your eyes-
Having pleaded with Judah to repent, Jeremiah goes on to say: “But as for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as is good and right in your eyes” (Jer. 26:13,14 RV). It’s as if he doesn’t mind if they kill him because they misunderstand him, his passionate concern, far over-riding any desire for his own preservation, was that they should repent.

Jeremiah 26:15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city, and on its inhabitants-
Even the pagans had a great fear of innocent blood being counted to them (Jonah 1:14), and this was also inculcated in the Jews by the Mosaic legislation (Dt. 19:10; 21:8). We see here how the sins of a minority can lead to cursing upon a majority; all the inhabitants would be cursed if the princes had decided to kill Jeremiah. The effects of Adam's sin were similar. 


For of a truth Yahweh has sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears- The word spoken was not just a general truth; Yahweh's word is a living word that is to come into the ears, intimately and personally, to every hearer. And the Bible to this day has the same effect.

Jeremiah 26:16 Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets: This man is not worthy of death; for he has spoken to us in the name of Yahweh our God-
We wonder why there was this volte face. The warning about the possibility of guilt for innocent blood (:15) presumably struck home. We conclude therefore that they did have a conscience, somewhere. And that conscience was piqued. We may assume that the majority of our audience are conscienceless. But this isn't the case. We are all made in the image of God, and thereby have a conscience. We note that "all the people" now sided with Jeremiah, when they had "all" sided with the false prophets in :11; and yet by :24 they were again seeking to put Jeremiah to death. This is one of many Biblical examples of how crowds are so fickle.

A study of “the princes” of Judah at the time of the final Babylonian invasion shows that they were not against Jeremiah nor responding to God’s word (Jer. 26:16; 36:14,19); indeed at one stage they pulled back from their path of refusing to respond (Jer. 34:10). But “the princes” were the ones whom Zedekiah feared (Jer. 38:25), and that fear led him to reject God’s word. And “the princes” were finally condemned for their weakness (Jer. 32:32); it was they who imprisoned and sought to kill Jeremiah because ultimately they could not abide his word (Jer. 37:15; 38:14). One person or a very small group can easily lead a whole group, even of believers, into sin. And so it is that whole groups of people- even God’s people- can be very fickle. And quite simply, groups of people go against their own consciences, and then others, like Zedekiah, assume that they solidly hold positions which underneath they do not. Joseph's brothers were similar. We need to see through all this, and realize that whatever facade may appear, people are subconsciously more sensitive to our message than may appear. This can be verified by a simple experiment. Stand on a busy street corner passing out tracts advertising a free coffee; and observe the reactions of those who take them. And then start passing out tracts advertising a free Bible or Gospel meeting; the reactions are quite different, because conscience has been confronted. See on :22.

Jeremiah 26:17 Then rose up certain of the elders of the land and spoke to all the assembled people saying-
The "elders" are repeatedly presented as being against Yahweh and deeply culpable to judgment. And yet here we see that they had some kind of conscience, and awareness of historical and spiritual precedent. See on :16.

Jeremiah 26:18 Micah the Morashtite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus says Yahweh of Armies: Zion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest-
This didn't happen at the hands of the Assyrians, but it was deferred, reapplied and rescheduled to AD70 and the last days. And so the Babylonian judgment likewise could have been rescheduled or even ameliorated- if even a minority had repented at the time. But it seems there was no response to Jeremiah's message at all.

Jeremiah 26:19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Didn’t he fear Yahweh, and entreat the favour of Yahweh-
"Entreat" is the word usually used for 'causing pain'. This shows the openness and sensitivity of God to human prayer and desire.

And Yahweh relented of the disaster which He had pronounced against them? Thus should we commit great evil against our own souls- When Hezekiah studied the words of Micah, “did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evil  which he had pronounced against him” (Jer. 26:19). Those words of Mic. 3:12  had their fulfillment annulled or delayed thanks to Hezekiah’s prayer and repentance. Likewise Jonah’s prophecy that in 40 days Nineveh would be destroyed, unconditionally, was nullified by their repentance. And so the judgment of Jerusalem was likewise open to negotiation right up to the last moment.

Hezekiah obtained forgiveness and acceptance for those who kept the Passover “otherwise than it was written”- thanks to his prayer (2 Chron. 30:18). In Hezekiah’s time, all Israel had to repent to avert total destruction- but even though they didn’t, the prayer of Hezekiah saved the nation (Jer. 26:13,19). All of Jerusalem would have been forgiven if there was even one that truly executed judgment, after the pattern of Phinehas (Jer. 5:1- or is this a reference to Messiah?).


Jeremiah 26:20 There was also a man who prophesied in the name of Yahweh, Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath Jearim; and he prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah-
It's unclear whether this is another historical precedent quoted by the few elders of :17 in favour of not killing Jeremiah; or whether this was a counter precedent quoted by others at the court case of :10, justifying killing Jeremiah because another prophet had been killed for prophesying against Jerusalem. In any case, the fact that
Uriah had been murdered for teaching what Jeremiah did remains as an indication of Jeremiah's bravery in so publically and forcefully teaching that same message.

Jeremiah 26:21 and when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt-
As noted on :20, Jeremiah would have been aware of this, and he would have been careful to go into Egypt not because he feared, but because rather did he totally identify with God's apostate people. We too have situations like this, when we are forced to examine our motives; knowing that we can perform the same action from widely differing motives. And only we know our motives.

Jeremiah 26:22 and Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him, into Egypt-
This was significant effort. But Jehoiakim was so desperate to falsify God's word about him that he went to all this trouble to destroy the messenger. See on :16. But God noted it all, and the name and father's name of the man sent to do the dirty deed has been recorded all these centuries. He was likely the father in law of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24:8).

Jeremiah 26:23 and they fetched forth Uriah out of Egypt, and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people-
These graves are only elsewhere referred to in 2 Kings 23:6, where we learn that Josiah in his reforms had desecrated these graves near Jerusalem because they were associated with idolatry. Perhaps they were the graves of those sacrificed to Baal (the victims likely included people other than children). This prophet was therefore treated as a sacrifice to Baal, and was likely killed therefore in loyalty to the Baal cult. The word of the false prophets and false gods had thus prevailed against the speaker of Yahweh's word.

Jeremiah 26:24 But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah-
Ahikam was one of those who were involved with finding and interpreting the "book of the law" that was discovered and was the basis for Josiah's reforms (2 Kings 22:12,14); his son Gedaliah appears to have been faithful and to also have cared for Jeremiah after Jerusalem fell (Jer. 40:6).   

That they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death- We note that "all the people" sided with Jeremiah in :16, when they had "all" sided with the false prophets in :11; and yet now by :24 they were again seeking to put Jeremiah to death. This is one of many Biblical examples of how crowds are so fickle.