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

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,”


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.”


The fourth year of Jehoiakim was 605-604BC.  The fact that Jeremiah’s prophecies were to be preserved in a book or scroll indicates that they weren’t confined to the nations of his own time, but that they embrace the present as well as the impending Tribulation and millennial ages.


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.”


Iniquity is the word used to describe sin of a more heinous nature than is usually implied in the word sin.  It describes perversity or depravity which deserves to be punished with the sword, i.e., which brings destruction.  It helps to convey the enormity of Judah’s guilt.


As noted already, however, God’s foretold destruction of that generation of Judah, as a nation, was irrevocable, the warning being continued only for the benefit of the individual here and there who might repent and thereby save his soul, though not necessarily his life.  The same principle governs the preaching of the Gospel today.  The doom of apostate Christendom and the rest of the world is unalterable, the day of grace being extended for a little while only for the benefit of the rare individual who will repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The warning that we are living in the very last days of this age of grace is confirmed by the almost total lack of response to the Gospel.


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.”


It is interesting to note that Baruch means blessed; and Neriah my lamp is Jehovah.  


36:5.  “And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the Lord:”


Apparently the prophet may still have been confined to the guard chamber by the command of the evil king Jehoiakim, though the fact that he and Baruch went into hiding, see vv.,19,26 would indicate that they were either not closely guarded, or enjoyed a considerable degree of liberty.


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.”


It seems that prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC there were no regularly appointed fast days, fasting being called for prior to that only in cases of dire emergency, and being appointed for regular observance only after that calamity.  The “fasting day” mentioned here therefore was probably a special occasion, an attempt to appease God and induce Him to deliver them from the yoke of Babylon.


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.”


As discussed already, the doom of the nation was sealed, but the term “every one” may indicate the prophet’s hope that at least some individuals would heed the warning, repent, and save their souls, though not necessarily their bodies.


The people would still preserve the hypocritical show of worshiping Jehovah, as does apostate Christendom today; but now, as then, the instructed believer realizes that there will not be mass conversions in response to the preaching of the Gospel.  The bulk of the harvest has been gathered in.  This is the time of mere gleaning, the evangelist being fortunate to find a stalk here and another there to encourage him to persevere, knowing that the age is about to end.


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.”


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.”


It seems clear that God’s command to Jeremiah to write, was based on His foreknowledge of that coming day of fasting, which would furnish the largest possible audience for His message.


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.”


Gemariah was a good man well disposed toward Jeremiah, his father Shaphan, a scribe, being the one to whom Hilkiah the high priest gave the new-found book of the Law during the reign of the good king Josiah, see 2 Ki 22:3-13, the reading of which prompted the godly reforms of Josiah.  It is very possible that in making his chamber available for the reading of Jeremiah’s words, Gemariah had hope that similar good results would follow that reading also.


36:11.  “When Michaiah the son of Gemariah the son of Shaphan, had heard out of the book all the words of the Lord,”


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.”


The “scribe’s chamber” is also translated, “the conference room where the administrative officials were meeting” - Taylor.


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.”


36:14.  “Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemaiah, 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.”


36:15.  “And they said unto him, Sit down now, and read it in our ears.  So Baruch read it in their ears.”


36:16.  “Now it came to pass, when they had heard all the words, they were afraid both one and another, and said unto Baruch, We will surely tell the king of all these words.”


Verse 19 makes it clear that the need to tell the king didn’t stem from ill-will towards Baruch or Jeremiah, but rather from the knowledge that Jehoiakim would hear of it eventually, and retaliate against them and Jeremiah and Baruch, by executing them as he had Uriah the prophet as recorded in 26:20-23.


36:17.  “And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?”


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.”


36:19.  “Then said the princes unto Baruch, Go, hide thee, thou and Jeremiah; and let no man know where ye be.”


Their desire to know how the book came to be written was undoubtedly in anticipation of their being asked the same question by the king.


36:20.  “And they went into 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.”


No reason is given for their depositing the roll in Elishama’s room, but it is possible that they may have suspected that Jehoiakim would destroy it, as in fact he did.


36:21.  “So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishma 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.”


36:22.  “Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month (December): and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.”


36:23.  “And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves (columns), 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.”


Since the writing was in vertical columns on a roll or scroll that was rolled by the reader from one roller on to another, what is translated as leaves was literally vertical columns.  And it was Jehoiakim, the angry king, not Jehudi, who mutilated and burned the scroll.


Relative to this burning of the scroll, William MacDonald makes the apt comment that this is “a perfect picture of what liberals and rationalists have been doing with the Word of God ever since.”


36:24.  “Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.”


Neither the king, nor those around him, who had heard Jeremiah’s message of coming destruction, were perturbed.  Having heeded the words of the false prophets, they despised the truth spoken by God’s true servant.  It is the same today in apostate Christendom.  Having believed the lies of their false teachers, they dismiss as nonsense the warnings given by those who believe the Scriptures, and who therefore recognize that the terrible thunder clouds of Divine judgment are about to burst and destroy this present evil world, sweeping down to hell multitudes who mocked God and His messengers who tried to warn them.


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.”


The warnings of godly men are similarly ignored today both by commoners and rulers alike, rulers, in fact, being foremost in setting an evil example for the people.


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.”


What folly it is for men to seek the hurt of those whom God protects; and what folly it is on the part of believers to fear the wrath of mere men, since nothing can happen apart from God’s permission or direction!


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,”


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.”


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?


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.”


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.”


The assurance that Jehoiakim would have no descendant to occupy the throne of Judah is not contradicted by the fact that his son Jehoiachin did succeed him as recorded in 2 Ki 24:8-17, but he reigned a mere three months before being carried to Babylon where he was imprisoned for thirty-seven years, at the end of which he was released, but never returned to Canaan, see 2 Ki 25:27-30.


Relative to the foretold ignominious disposal of Jehoiakim’s

dead body, no details have been preserved, but see comments on 22:19.


Men may close their eyes and ears against God’s Word, and harden their hearts, but nothing man may do will ever be able to alter His decrees.  What He foretells will be accomplished just as surely as if it were already done.


36:32.  “Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote thereon 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.”


Not only was the original roll rewritten, but additional facts were added, so that Jehoiakim’s work of destruction simply resulted in the production of an enhanced scroll to give further  warning to those with the wisdom to heed God’s Word.

[Jeremiah 37]


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