Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2003 James Melough
saith the Lord; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there
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
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
This is not to be understood
as a new command being given, the keeping of which would ensure deliverance
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
(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.”
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.
“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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.