For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

22:1.  “Thus saith the Lord; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word.”


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:”


Having warned the people and the priests, Jeremiah was next commanded to speak directly to the king and all his officers.


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.”


This is not to be understood as a new command being given, the keeping of which would ensure deliverance for Judah.  It is simply the reiteration of the command God had given in the past, and which had been flagrantly disobeyed by virtually all the kings of Judah, and by the priests and people also.  It was, in fact, to remind the king and his court why they were about to be destroyed.  They had deliberately defied God by disobeying Him, and now they were to pay the penalty.


Today’s Christendom has also flagrantly rebelled against God, and is about to suffer in the impending Tribulation the judgments, of which those upon Israel and Judah were but the precursors.


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.”


This continues to be the reminder of blessing that would have been had Judah obeyed God, but which that generation of Judah had forfeited irrevocably by their disobedience.


22:5.  “But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.”


Having reminded them in the preceding verses of the blessings that would have attended obedience, God now reminds them also of the inescapable punishment they must suffer because of their disobedience.  Their refusal to “hear these words,” i.e., to obey, had sealed their doom, the immutability of the Divine sentence being emphasized in that God had sworn by Himself to execute it.


“... this house” is generally understood to refer to the royal palace, part of which was known as the House of the Forest of Lebanon, because of the amount of Lebanon cedar that had been used in its construction.


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.”


Even though Judah had once been as pleasing and valuable to God as the lush pastures of Gilead, and as the snow-capped summit of Lebanon, the melting snow of which furnished a constant supply of water for the plain beneath, that would not prevent His destroying them now that they had made themselves vile by their sinfulness.  He was about to send the people into captivity in Babylon, while He made their once fertile land a wilderness; and their once populous cities deserted ruins.


Gilead means heap of witness: rolling for ever; and Lebanon whiteness, so that the use of these names may be meant to convey the additional truth that it was God’s intention that Judah should have been a perpetual witness for Him, she demonstrating by her obedience, the phenomenal blessing which is His recompense of those who do His will, that blessing extending beyond the earthly state into the eternal; while Lebanon may speak of the moral purity that is the concomitant of obedience.


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.”


The destroyer was Babylon, and “choice cedars” were the cedar beams of the houses in Jerusalem, a part of the palace complex being called the House of the Forest of Lebanon.


22:8.  “And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city?”


Men of the surrounding nations, passing through the devastated land, and seeing the ruins of the once magnificent Jerusalem,  would wonder in amazement why God had inflicted such terrible judgment on the city and land.


22:9.  “Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods, and served them.”


The covenant or agreement that Judah had entered into with God was that they would obey Him, He on His part agreeing that in response to that obedience He would bless them; but Judah had violated the covenant, and had forsaken Jehovah to worship idols.


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.”


Many scholars take the “dead” to be those who would be slain by the Babylonians; but some understand the reference to be to the slain good king Josiah, see 2 Ki 23:28-30, and the mention of his son (Shallum or Jehoahaz)in the next verse may well indicate that this is the true meaning of the statement.  There was no point in weeping for the dead; if tears were to be shed it would be better to weep for him who would be carried away captive to Egypt, where he would languish till the end of his life without hope of ever returning to his native land.


It isn’t difficult to see in this a symbolic picture of what it means to go from time into eternity unsaved, the body being consigned to the grave, and the soul and spirit into hell, to await the resurrection of damnation that will culminate with the consignment of body, soul, and spirit to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.


22:11.  “For thus saith the Lord touching Shallum (Jehoahaz) 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.”


22:12.  “But he shall die in the place whither they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.”


Shallum was another name for Jehoahaz, who after a brief reign of three months, was deposed by Pharaoh-Nechoh, and carried into Egypt where he died without ever seeing his native land again, see 2Ki 23:30-34.


Since Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in independence of God, and since Shallum means requital: restitution, the fate of this man may have a spiritual significance that transcends the literal.  He may in fact be the representative of those, who ignoring the instruction of godly parents, devote themselves to this world’s business rather than to the pursuit of the things that pertain to the kingdom of heaven, and in doing so disqualify themselves from entering heaven.


22:13.  “Woe to him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbor’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work;”


Most commentators understand the reference to be to Eliakim (Jehoiakim), brother of the deposed Jehoahaz (Shallum), Pharaoh having made him, Eliakim, king instead of Jehoahaz, and having changed his name to Jehoiakim, see 2 Ki 23:34.  The woe was pronounced against him because he was building his palace with forced unpaid labor at a time when the people were hard pressed to pay the tribute demanded by Egypt.


The woe pronounced against him is applicable to all who accumulate riches by wrong means, and is of particular relevance to today’s ruthless business world, for no one can deny that many acquire wealth by crooked business dealings, and by oppression and underpayment of the employees whose labor produces that wealth.


22:14.  “That saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermillion.”


The ambitious plans of Jehoiakim were interrupted, because as a result of his having rebelled against Babylon, he was taken prisoner to that land, but appears to have been eventually released, for he died in Jerusalem in 598 BC, the year before Nebuchadnezzar began his second siege of that rebellious city.


Jehoiakim was like the rich farmer mentioned in Lk 12, who anticipating many years of life, made plans for the storage of his increased crops, only to be told by the God Whom he had left out of his plans, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” Lk 12:20.


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?”


The question put here to the foolish Jehoiakim by Jehovah was whether he thought that by building himself a magnificent palace he would be more glorious, and would reign longer than his father, the good king Josiah, the clearly implied answer being that he would not.  His eleven year reign would end with his death and inglorious burial the year before Nebuchadnezzar would sack Jerusalem in 597 BC.


He who fails to secure the eternal safety of his soul by confessing himself a sinner, and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, is of all fools the greatest.


22:16.  “He (Josiah) judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me?  saith the Lord.”


The good king Josiah saw to it that there was the same equality of justice for rich and poor alike; and because he did, God blessed him, for the man who lives such a godly life is simply demonstrating that he knows and reverences God.  His life was the practical demonstration of the truth declared in Mt 7:16, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”  More than a mere lip profession of faith is required of those who would hope to enter heaven, see Mt 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils?  and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.”


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.”


This picture of Jehoiakim is of a man utterly wicked.  He was greedy, murderous, an unjust oppressor of the poor, and maliciously ruthless.  He is in fact the prototype of many of those who head up our society today.


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!”


“Ah my brother! or, Ah sister,” means that none of his relatives would lament at his death; and “Ah lord! or, Ah his glory” is another way of saying that none of his subjects would mourn his passing.


22:19.  “He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”


2 Ki 24:6 declares that he, “slept with his fathers,” which may mean nothing more than that he died, for some scholars believe that he may have been assassinated, and that his body was ignominiously thrown over the city wall during the siege, in an attempt to placate the Babylonians.


Since the ass is a type of man in his natural state, see Job 11:12, “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt,” Jehoiakim’s being buried like an ass, continues to emphasize that he died as an unbeliever.


And since Jerusalem, meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, is biblically synonymous with peace, his being “cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” is the symbolic announcement of the truth that he will dwell eternally, not in peace, but in the torment of the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire, as will all who die without having been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


22:20.  “Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages (Abarim hills or mountains): for all thy lovers (allies, friends) are destroyed.”


In the day when God would execute judgment, using Babylon as His instrument, Judah would be without anyone to aid her, for all her former allies would likewise have become subservient to the same foe.  From whatever viewpoint she looked: the top of Lebanon, Bashan, or the Abarim mountains, doomed Judah would be unable to find a deliverer.


As has been noted already, the day of Judah’s destruction points to what will occur world-wide in the Great Tribulation, and since Lebanon speaks symbolically of human intelligence, a further lesson to be learnt relative to those coming judgments is that all the ingenuity of man will be unable to devise a way of escape from the wrath of God.


Since Bashan is used figuratively in Ps 22:12-13 to describe the evil Jewish religious leaders, it may stand for religion in general, so that the truth connected with the vain search from Bashan is that mere religion will be equally helpless to deliver men from the wrath of the Almighty in the Tribulation.


“... passages” is literally Abarim, i.e., the heights of Abarim (which included mount Nebo from which Moses was permitted to view Canaan), at the foot of which lay the fords of Jordan; but since the Jordan is the symbol of death, the spiritual lesson is that even death wouldn’t deliver the unrepentant rebel, for it would simply carry his soul down to hell, and ultimately into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.


There is no way of escaping the wrath of God in any age, except through repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


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.”


In the time when God was still blessing her, though she was becoming disobedient, He warned her that failure to repent would result in her chastisement, but she had ignored Him persistently through many generations.  Rebellion was nothing new to Judah.  It was inherent; but now the God Whom she had defied, and Whose patience she had exhausted, was about to teach her that His wrath was as much to be dreaded as His love and mercy were to be desired, though the lesson would come too late to benefit that rebellious generation whose doom was sealed through their failure to repent in God’s time. 


But again we see in Israel and Judah the mirror which reflects the heart of all men.  In the midst of prosperity they forget God, prosperity being a relative thing, for even the pauper allows what little he has of this world’s goods to distract him from contemplating the need of preparing to meet God.


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.”


“... pastors” is also translated leaders, shepherds; and “lovers” allies.  All of them would be swept away as is chaff by the wind: the enemy would carry them captive into Babylon; and only then would an ashamed Judah learn how wicked she had been, the knowledge coming too late, however, to save her.


So will it be also with today’s Christendom.  She too is about to discover the folly of having heeded her evil leaders, and equally wicked spiritual advisers.


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!


Taylor translates this, “It’s very nice to live graciously in a beautiful palace among the cedars of Lebanon; but soon you will cry and groan in anguish ...”  Jehoiakim is the one referred to here, dwelling in his cedar-paneled palace, considering all others his inferiors, and looking upon them with haughty disdain, but the pain, physical and mental, about to come upon him would be similar to that of a woman in travail.  And again, the reference extends, not only to today’s high and mighty ones, but to all who forget or despise God.


“... how gracious shalt thou be” may also be translated, “how you will plead or entreat” when the judgment of God overtakes you.


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;”


This declares God’s utter abhorrence of the wicked Jehoiakim.  If his, Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin (also called Coniah), were the signet ring on God’s right hand, He would tear it off and discard it, a threat that was fulfilled when God caused Jehoiachin to be carried captive to Babylon where he remained a prisoner for thirty-seven years, see 2 Ki 24:12-15; 25:27-30.


The propriety of his being likened to God’s signet lies in the fact that the impress of the king’s signet ring on a document invested it with the authority of the king, and every ruler is responsible to act as God’s agent.  Sadly, no one has ever done so perfectly, nor will such a man be found until the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in the Millennium.


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 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.”


This continues God’s pronouncement of judgment upon Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin (Coniah) who was indeed given into the hand of the Babylonians, see comments on verse 24.  (The name Chaldean, incidentally, was frequently used as a synonym for Babylonian.)


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.”


This continues to refer to Jehoiachin, see scriptural references at end of comments on verse 24.


22:27.  “But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.”


Neither Jehoiachin nor his family would be permitted to return to their native land.  They died in Babylon.


The unfulfilled desire of Jehoiachin to return to Palestine is but a faint foreshadowing of that which fills the hearts of those who are now in hell.  The worst state ever experienced on earth would be preferable to their torment in that dread place where they now await final consignment to the endless torment of the fearful lake of fire.


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?”


The questions are rhetorical.  In God’s sight Jehoiachin, who had been the idol of the people, had made himself the equivalent of a despised broken idol or useless piece of a discarded broken earthen vessel.  It was for their wickedness that God was casting away him and his family.


22:29.  “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.”


The thrice repeated “earth” declares the imperative of man’s obeying God, the terrible fate of the last kings of Judah being the warning against disobedience, for all who disobey will likewise perish.


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.”


Jehoiachin, also called Jechonias, Jeconiah, Jeconias, Coniah, was not childless, see 1 Chr 3:17-18: he was, in fact, an ancestor of Joseph, the husband of Mary, see Mt 1:11-12; but it is to be noted that Joseph was not the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose right to the throne came through Mary, not Joseph, so the Lord’s being Heir to the throne does not contradict what is written here concerning Jehoiachin.


The ultimate truth being declared in this is that no unbeliever will have any part with Christ when He reigns as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

[Jeremiah 23]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough