New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Jeremiah 28:1 It happened the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month- Hebrew thought tends to divide periods into two, the beginning and the end. So the fourth year of his reign could still be understood as "the beginning".


That Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet, who was of Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of Yahweh, in the presence of the priests and of all the people saying- The temple was Jeremiah's usual place of witness, as public as possible, standing there with the yoke upon his neck (:10); which was very brave, considering how unpopular and anti-establishment was his message.

Jeremiah 28:2 Thus speaks Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon-
This is typical of false teaching. A true fact (that the yoke of Babylon would one day be broken) was presented in such a context and frame of reference that it was seriously false. The Babylonian yoke was to be lifted only when Judah repented; and they had not done so.

Jeremiah 28:3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of Yahweh’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried to Babylon-
The specific detail, within exactly two years, is again typical of false prophets. They use detail as if to give credibility to their claims. But it is just an indication of how brazen they are in their falsity. As noted on :2, the characteristic of false teachers is that they twist God's true word; in this case, the promise of Jer. 27:22 that ultimately the temple vessels would be restored to Zion. See on :6.

Jeremiah 28:4 and I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, who went to Babylon, says Yahweh; for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon-
Again (see on :2,3), this was a twist of God's true word. For Ezekiel, who was with those captives, had spoken of the possibility of their early restoration- if they repented. But like all people, they wanted the results of repentance and spirituality without the repentance and spiritual effort.

Jeremiah 28:5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of Yahweh-
Perhaps "Hananiah" was a name chosen by this false prophet, for the name means 'Yah has favoured', as if the promised time of grace and favour toward Zion had already come (alluding to the same words used in Is. 30:18,19; 33:2 etc.). It was one of the most continually attractive messages- the Kingdom without the path there, the crown without the cross.

Jeremiah 28:6 even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: Yahweh do so; Yahweh perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring again the vessels of Yahweh’s house, and all them of the captivity, from Babylon to this place-
As explained on :2-4, Hananiah was quoting true prophecies and yet saying they were to come about without any repentance. And Jeremiah recognizes this by saying that indeed these words will come true, but peace with God comes from relationship with Him and is not simply there for the wicked to grab.

Jeremiah 28:7 Nevertheless hear you now this word that I speak in your ears, and in the ears of all the people-
This is the classic example of the need for God's words to be understood in context and not out of context.

Jeremiah 28:8 The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of plague-
The idea seems to be that the bulk of the prophetic revelation had been of suffering and judgment; this far outweighed the material about "peace" (:7), and there were no prophecies about "peace" which did not foresee judgment and suffering as required before that "peace" was experienced. This is equivalent to Paul's comment that only through much suffering can we enter the Kingdom (Acts 14:22). 

Jeremiah 28:9 The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet shall happen, then shall the prophet be known, that Yahweh has truly sent him-
See on :8. This seems to imply that no true prophet prophesied only peace to Israel- there was always an exposure of sin and an appeal to repentance. That was part of their ministry. And it was directed at the people of God, for the most part- to us, the ecclesia. And it’s indifference, lack of passion, which, it seems to me, is the besetting tragedy of our age. When did you last really shed tears? When were you moved, really wrenched in your gut, by the suffering of others, by the sin of this world, your own sin, your part in humanity’s tragic rejection of God… when did you last feel for God in His pain, as He sees His beloved children and creation walk away from Him day after day, second after second? When did you last feel ecstatic joy, deep sadness… in this post-modern world of surface level emotion? It’s in all this that the words of the prophets and their personal nature as people challenge us- and their spirit is to be the spirit of our testimony to Jesus in this world.

Jeremiah 28:10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the bar from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and broke it-
Hananiah realized that Jeremiah was preaching that the time of peace could only come by submitting to the yoke of Babylon in recognition of their sinfulness. It was only God who could lift that yoke, and Hananiah was claiming that he was acting on God's behalf. This truly was preaching peace with God when there could be no peace to the wicked.

Jeremiah 28:11 Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people saying, Thus says Yahweh: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon within two full years from off the neck of all the nations. The prophet Jeremiah went his way-
There are times when there is no point in arguing back against dogmatic liars and false teachers. Jeremiah would have gone his way to the jeers of the crowd; for Hananiah doubtless spoke with eloquence and calm dogmatism. It was only a specific call from Yahweh which meant that Jeremiah did, later, make a response. At the time, he simply walked away. Walking away is no sign that we have lost the argument; we are not called upon to argue back. God's truth will of itself be justified.

Jeremiah 28:12 Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the bar from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah saying-
See on :11. It was God's preference to allow the people to weigh up the two alternative 'words from Yahweh' which they had heard.

Jeremiah 28:13 Go, and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus says Yahweh: You have broken the bars of wood; but you have made in their place bars of iron-
To be placed under a yoke of iron was the punishment for breaking the old covenant (Dt. 28:48). Suddenly the significance of Jeremiah's wooden yoke became apparent; they could have chosen a far ameliorated version of judgment, if they had recognized their sins. But that possibility was now withdrawn. God likewise works with people today. The implication of the grammar here is that the iron yoke had been made by Hananiah. By refusing the ties that bind, they become heavier. Man's search for ultimate freedom is in vain, unless we accept the servitude God offers.

Jeremiah 28:14 For thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the animals of the field also-
The reference to the animals may simply be an expansion of the idea of the nations having been given to him. Or perhaps there was a sense in which even the natural creation recognized that they had a new human master. This was to be the extent of God's communication of this truth. We note that the iron rather than the wooden yoke was placed upon the Gentile nations because of Hananiah's awful sin and the way Judah eagerly believed him (:13). If they had rejected him and accepted Jeremiah's message, then the yoke of Babylon upon the nations would have been lighter; and had they accepted Nebuchadnezzar as being Yahweh's servant and thereby willingly served Him through serving Babylon, it would have been broken altogether. So much was potentially possible for the Gentiles had Judah repented.

Jeremiah 28:15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah: Yahweh has not sent you; but you make this people to trust in a lie-
The invitation to Hananiah to "hear..." was because this was an appeal for his repentance. The planned death of Hananiah could have not happened, had he repented. He didn't, and the people willingly believed his lies, because it was a message they were predisposed to accept. This is why false teaching is listened to. It is a question of moral rather than intellectual failure.

Jeremiah 28:16 Therefore thus says Yahweh, Behold, I will send you away from off the surface of the land: this year you shall die, because you have spoken rebellion against Yahweh-
He had a year to repent, but he didn't, and the fact he died only two months later suggests he hardened himself in his false message (:17). To refuse the yoke of Babylon was rebellion against Yahweh. For Nebuchadnezzar was Yahweh's servant, and so accepting bondage to him was accepting servitude to Yahweh. The allusion is to Dt. 13:5, where the false prophet who spoke rebellion against Yahweh was to be killed (s.w.), because he was bringing the people back into bondage. This is the great paradox- that refusal of the ties that bind to God is a return to bondage. And accepting His bondage is freedom.

Jeremiah 28:17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month
- He died two months later (:1), perhaps alluding to his claim that the yoke would be broken within two years.