Jeremiah Chapter Twenty-eight
A false prophet opposes Jeremiah. (1-9) The false prophet warned of his approaching death. (10-17)
Commentary on Jeremiah 28:1-9
(Read Jeremiah 28:1-9)
Hananiah spoke a false prophecy. Here is not a word of good counsel urging the Jews to repent and return to God. He promises temporal mercies, in God's name, but makes no mention of the spiritual mercies which God always promised with earthly blessings. This was not the first time Jeremiah had prayed for the people, though he prophesied against them. He appeals to the event, to prove Hananiah's falsehood. The prophet who spake only of peace and prosperity, without adding that they must not by wilful sin stop God's favours, will be proved a false prophet. Those who do not declare the alarming as well as the encouraging parts of God's word, and call men to repentance, and faith, and holiness, tread in the steps of the false prophets. The gospel of Christ encourages men to do works meet for repentance, but gives no encouragement to continue in sin.
Commentary on Jeremiah 28:10-17
(Read Jeremiah 28:10-17)
Hananiah is sentenced to die, and Jeremiah, when he has received direction from God, boldly tells him so; but not before he received that commission. Those have much to answer for, who tell sinners that they shall have peace, though they harden their hearts in contempt of God's word. The servant of God must be gentle to all men. He must give up even his right, and leave the Lord to plead his cause. Every attempt of ungodly men to make vain the purposes of God, will add to their miseries.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Jeremiah》
 And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying,
The fourth year — Perhaps the fourth year of the sabbatical course is here intended.
Of Gibeon — it is probable from the place where he lived, which was one of the cities of the priests; that he was a priest.
 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
Then — Some time after.
 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.
But — Thou hast further incensed God against them, and provoked him to make their judgment heavier.
 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
Died — Within two months after Jeremiah had thus prophesied; so dangerous a thing it is for ministers to teach people contrary to the revealed will of God.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Jeremiah》
28 Chapter 28
And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
Self in service
(with Jeremiah 26:14):--We couple these passages together, because they lead our minds to the same important thought, namely, the laying aside of “self” by the servants of the Lord. Hananiah takes the yoke from off Jeremiah s neck, and breaks it, and so discredits him and his prophecy in the presence of the people. “And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.” He left it to God to vindicate His own honour, which He did very soon--very terribly. Before the princes also, in chap. 26., he tells out uncompromisingly all the truth of God; he knew that he did so at the peril of his life. “As for me,”--he was not insensible to personal suffering, still himself he was as nothing--“behold I am in your hand, do with me as seemeth meet unto you.” By this complete abnegation of “self” on the part of the prophet, we are led to consider some matters connected with “self” in our service. There is a young period in the Christian’s life, when we are deceived by not seeing “self” at all; when we have no dread of it; when we never even suspect its existence. At this time, we mistake its energies for spiritual life, and often seek to carry out what is really the Lord’s work, in the powers and energies of the flesh, i.e. “self.” There is a period farther on, when we detect “self” partially. The Spirit of God has led us onward in our education, and raised our standard, making us watchful and distrustful of “self” to some degree. Then comes a yet more advanced stage, when we see “self” to such an extent as to make us dread it greatly when we see it ever intrusive, ever substituting motives low and mean for what should be holy and high; and we wage war with this “self,” fully determined to put it down. There is also yet a more advanced state, when we have attained such a knowledge of the power of “self” that, while we war with, and repress it, we have come to know that here we shall never have done with it, and look forward to full deliverance only when we reach that land where there is perfect freedom.
I. The wrong operations of “self” in service. Much that we do may be done from the action of mere natural feelings--there may be nothing of God in it at all A man may be gratifying only his own natural energy in all that seems so earnest and true. And when we allow “self” to influence us, we shall be subjected to disturbing influences. Self-love will be easily wounded in the rough contact with opposers of the truth. And our judgment will be warped. It is very hard to be calm, and judicial, when under the influence of strong personal feelings, and where personal interests are concerned. Self will also drive us on too far. We shall not know when “to go our way.” We need not go far to detect some of the evil effects which flow from this wrong operation of “self” in service. It gives the enemy occasion to blaspheme. Satan continually attempts to confound persons and principles; men will look at the imperfect way in which we have manifested the principle, and not at the principle itself. Our infirmities become mixed up with the cause of God, and so far as they can, bring it into disrepute. And thus that saying becomes true--“religion suffers more from her friends than her enemies.”
II. The expulsion of “self” from service. How can this be done? In the most favourable of cases only by degrees. But what is a man to do?
1. He must seek for enlightenment on this subject from the Holy Spirit.
2. Let him seek for a more perfect sympathy with Christ. If we have this, we shall become assimilated with Him--we shall grow like Him; His mind will transfuse itself into our mind--and the principles, on which He acted, will become ours.
3. And then the seeking for a true knowledge of our own insignificance is very important in putting down “self.” We both think and act sometimes as though we were the first cause; and not only the first cause, but the final object also--as if all were to be by us, and for us--the axe thinks that it is doing all the work, and is independent of the one that heweth therewith. The very learning our insignificance will be helpful; and, when we have learned it in some degree, it will keep us, in proportion as the lesson has been learned, to our proper place. (P. B. Power, M. A.)
Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.
Yokes of wood and of iron
To throw off legitimate authority is to bind on a worse tyranny. Some kind of yoke every one of us must bend our necks to, and if we slip them out we do not thereby become independent, but simply bring upon ourselves a heavier pressure of a harder bondage.
I. We have the choice between the yoke of law and the iron yoke of lawlessness. Even a band of brigands, or a crew of pirates, must have some code. I have read somewhere that the cells in a honeycomb are circles squeezed by the pressure of the adjacent cells into the hexagonal shape which admits of contiguity. If they continued circles, there would be space and material lest, and no complete continuity. So, in like manner, you cannot keep five men together without some mutual limitations which are shaped into a law. Now, as long as a man keeps inside it he does not feel its pressure. A great many of us, for instance, who are in the main law-abiding people, do not ever remember that there is such a thing as restrictions upon our licence, or the obligation to perform certain duties; for we never think either of taking the licence or of shirking the duties. The yoke that is accepted ceases to press. Once let a man step outside, and what then? Why, then, he is an outlaw; and the rough side of the fence is turned outwards, and all possible terrors, which people within the boundary have nothing to do with, gather themselves together and frown down upon him. I need not remind you of how this same thesis--that we have to choose between the yoke of law and the iron yoke of lawlessness--is illustrated in the story of almost all violent revolutions. They run the same course. First the rising up of a nation against intolerable oppression, then revolution devours its own children, and the scum rises to the top of the boiling pot. Then comes, in the language of the picturesque historian of the French Revolution, the type of them all--then comes at the end “the whiff of grapeshot” and the despot. First the government of a mob, and then the tyranny of an emperor comes to the people that shake off the yoke of reasonable law.
II. We have to choose between the yoke of virtue and the iron yoke of vice. We are under a far more spiritual and searching law than that written in any statute-book, or administered by any Court. Every man carries within his own heart two things, and two persons; the court, the tribunal, the culprit, and the judge. And here, too, if law be not obeyed, the result is not liberty, but the slavery of lawlessness. A great philosopher once said that the two sublimest things in the universe were the moral law and the starry heavens. And that law “I ought” bends over us like the starry heavens with which he associated it. No man can escape from the pressure of duty, and on every man is laid, by his very make, the twofold obligation, first to look upwards and catch the behests of that solemn law of duty, and then to turn his eyes and his strength inwards and coerce or spur, as the case may be, the powers of his nature, and rule the kingdom within himself. Now, as long as a man lets the ruling parts of his nature guide the lower faculties, he feels comparatively no pressure from the yoke. But if he once allows beggars to ride on horseback whilst princes walk--sense and appetite and desire, and more or less refined forms of inclination to take the place which belongs only to conscience interpreting duty--then he has exchanged the easy yoke for one that is heavy indeed. What does a man do when, instead of loyally accepting the conditions of his nature, and bowing himself to serve the all-embracing law of duty, he sets up inclination of any sort in its place? What does he do? I will tell you. He unships the helm; he pitches compass and sextant overboard; he fires up the furnaces, and screws down the safety-valve, and says, “Go ahead!” And what will be the end of that, think you! Either an explosion or a crash upon a reef! and you may take your choice of which is the better kind of death--to be blown up or to go down.
III. We have the choice between the yoke of Christ and the iron yoke of godlessness. If you do not take Christ for your Teacher you are handed over either to the uncertainty of your own doubts or to pinning your faith to some man and enrolling yourself as a disciple who is prepared to swallow down whole whatsoever the rabbi may say, giving to him what you will not give to Jesus; or else you will sink back into utter indolence and carelessness about the whole matter; or else you will go and put your belief and your soul into the hands of a priest; or shut your eyes and open your mouth and take whatever” tradition may choose to send you. The one refuge from all these, as I believe, is to go to Him and learn of Him, and take His yoke upon your shoulders. But, let me say further, it is better to obey Christ’s commandments than to set ourselves against them. For if we will take His will for our law, and meekly assume the yoke of loyal and loving obedience to Him, the door into an earthly paradise is thrown open to us. His yoke is easy, not because its prescriptions and provisions lower the standard of righteousness and morality, but because love becomes the motive, and it is always blessed to do that which the Beloved desires. When “I will” and “I ought” cover exactly the same ground, then there is no kind of pressure from the yoke. Christ’s yoke is easy because, too, He gives the power to obey His commandments. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
The two yokes
I. Men must wear some yoke. In every stage of life--childhood, youth, manhood; and in every station of life--servants, masters, &c.
1. God has made and sustains us, and asks that we submit to His will
2. With our passions and propensities, if we break the yoke it is meet we should wear, and do not serve God, we at once bend our necks to another yoke and serve slavishly our own selves.
II. Christ’s yoke is an easy one to wear.
1. The yoke of Christ is a right one. Serve Jesus Christ, and it is found that the Christian law is perfection itself.
2. The yoke of Christ is framed in our interest. To believe in Christ is the highest wisdom; to repent of sin is the most delightful necessity; to follow after holiness is the most blissful pursuit; to become a servant of Christ is to be made a king and priest unto God.
3. Christ s yoke is not exacting. He, in His grace, always gives us of His bounty when He asks of us our duty.
4. It is an easy yoke. Never did a man wear it but he always loved to wear it.
5. The bright example of Christ makes the yoke pleasant to bear. He Himself has carried the very yoke we bear, and we have blessed fellowship with Him in this.
6. All who have borne Christ’s yoke have had grace given equal to the weight of the burden. Wolsey regretted that he had not “served God with half the zeal he had served his king,” but none has ever bewailed the zeal with which he followed Christ!
7. Christians who have borne this yoke always desire to get their children into it. Often men say, “I do not want my sons to follow my trade, it is wearying, its pay is small,” &c.
III. Those who refuse Christ’s easy yoke will have to wear a worse one.
1. Turning from the right road, from the cry of rectitude, because it threatens shame or loss, will entail vaster after-losses.
2. Backsliders, by putting off the yoke of Christianity, have not improved their condition.
3. They who refuse the Bible and follow tradition, Do these perverts of the true Christian religion get an easier yoke? No.; there are penances and mortifications, &c,
4. The self-righteous who attempt to work their own way to heaven. Self-righteousness is an iron yoke indeed.
5. Unbelievers, who will not believe the simple revelation of God, presently find themselves committed to systematic misbeliefs, which distract reason, oppress the heart, and trammel the conscience.
6. Lovers of pleasure. Pleasure often means lust, and gaiety means crime; and self-indulgence brings beggary and degradation, In the last tremendous day of Christ’s coming to judgment, the Christian’s yoke will be as a chain of gold about his neck; but sin, pleasure, will be as an iron yoke, a burden of enslaving woe. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
This year thou shalt die.
Thoughts on death
1. Let men live ever so many years, some one year will be the year of their death.
2. Every year is a year of death to many; there never was a year since the abbreviation of human life, since the extensive propagation and dispersion of mankind over all countries on the face of the earth, which has not been a year of death to tens of thousands,
3. Last year was a year of death to very many.
4. This year, very probably, will be a year of death to some of us. This or the other tree may be cut down; this or the other branch may be lopt off, and fall to the ground. Let us see then that we be ready, that if cut down, it may be in mercy, not in wrath; that if plucked up by the root and transplanted, it may be to be transplanted in a far better soil, where the air is more genial, where the fruits are always ripe.
5. No one of us knows but God may be saying to him or her, “This year thou shalt die.” Futurity is wisely hid from man; we know not the year or day of our death we need therefore constantly to watch.
6. It may be in mercy or in wrath that God is saying to this or the other one, “This year thou shalt die.” It was in wrath that this was said to Hananiah.
7. The year of one’s death is a most eventful year to him. This dissolves our connection with the present world; it issues us into the world of spirits. If we are the Lord’s people, it associates us with God, Christ, angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in the state of glory and blessedness.
8. There is no outliving the appointed year of one’s death. No distinction of rank, no worldly pre-eminence, no degree of riches, influence, or power, no plea of necessity, no supposed usefulness in civil or sacred society, can prevent death.
9. The year of one’s death may come very unexpectedly. (Anon.)
I. This sentence is doubtless expressive of the decision of God concerning many this year.
1. The page of history affords no record of a single year in which death desisted from his work of destruction.
2. The last year of many is now commended.
3. Various are the means by Which God’s design will be executed.
II. No individual can be certain that this does not express God’s decision concerning himself.
1. Utterly impossible for us to know who are, or are not, included in God’s appointments.
2. The circumstances of some render it most probable that this year will be their last.
3. Doubtless those who think least of death, and confidently reckon on future years, will find this sentence fulfilled.
III. It is the duty and interest of all to use wisely the gracious hours they enjoy.
1. What is it to die? To pass from this state of being into the immediate presence of our Maker and Judge.
2. Am I prepared to die?
3. Begin the year with earnest preparation. (J. Bunter.)
A sermon on the New Year
It is highly probable, that if some prophet, like Jeremiah, should open to us the book of the Divine decrees, one or other of us would there see our sentence, and the time of its execution fixed, “Thus saith the Lord, This year thou shalt die.” There some of us would find it written, “This year thou shalt enjoy a series of prosperity, to try if the goodness of God will lead thee to repentance.” Others might read this melancholy line, “This year shall be to thee a series of afflictions: this year thou shalt lose thy dearest earthly support and comfort; this year thou shalt pine away with sickness, or agonise with torturing pain, to try if the kind severities of a Father’s rod will reduce thee to thy duty. Others, I hope, would road the gracious decree, “This year, thy stubborn spirit, after long resistance, shall be sweetly constrained to bow to the despised Gospel of Christ. This year shalt thou be born a child of God, and an heir of happiness, which the revolution of years shall never, never, terminate.” Others perhaps would read this tremendous doom, “This year My Spirit so long resisted, shall cease to strive with thee; this year I will give thee up to thine own heart’s lusts, and swear in My wrath thou shalt not enter into My rest.” Others would probably find the doom of the false prophet Hananiah pronounced against them: “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die.”
I. This year you may die.
1. Your life is the greatest uncertainty in the world.
2. Thousands have died since the last New Year’s Day; and this year will be of the same kind with the last; the duration of mortals; a time to die.
3. Thousands of others will die: it is certain they will, and why may not you?
4. Though you are young; for the regions of the dead have been crowded with persons of your age; and no age is the least security against the stroke of death.
5. Though you are now in health and your constitution seems to promise a long life; for thousands of such will be hurried into the eternal world this year, as they have been in years past.
6. Though you are full of business, though you have projected many schemes, which it may be the work of years to execute, and which afford you many bright and flattering prospects.
7. Though you have not yet finished your education, nor fixed in life, but are preparing to appear in the world, and perhaps elated with the prospect of the figure you will make in it.
8. Though you are not prepared for it.
9. Though you deliberately delay your preparation, and put it off to some future time.
10. Though you are unwilling to admit the thought. Death does not slacken his pace towards you, because you hate him, and are afraid of his approach.
11. Though you may strongly hope the contrary, and flatter yourself with the expectation of a length of years.
II. What if you should? If you should die this year, then all your doubts, all the anxieties of blended hopes and fears about your state and character will terminate for ever in full conviction. If you are impenitent sinners, all the artifices of self-flattery will be able to make you hope better things no longer; but the dreadful discovery will flash upon you with the resistless blaze of intuitive evidence. You will see, you will feel yourselves such. This year you may die: and should you die this year, you will be for ever cut off from all the pleasures of life. Then an everlasting farewell to all the mirth, the tempting amusements and vain delights of youth. Farewell to all the pleasures you derive from the senses, and all the gratifications of appetite. Then farewell to all the pompous but empty pleasures of riches and honours. The pleasures both of enjoyment and expectation from this quarter will fail for ever. But this is not all If you should die this year, you will have no pleasures, no enjoyments to substitute for those you will lose. Your capacity and eager thirst for happiness will continue, nay, will grow more strong and violent in that improved adult state of your nature. And yet you will have no good, real or imaginary, to satisfy it; and consequently the capacity of happiness will become a capacity of misery; and the privation of pleasure will be positive pain. If you die this year, you will not only be cut off from all the flattering prospects of this life, but from all hope entirely, and for ever. If you die in your sins, you will be fixed in an unchangeable state of misery; a state that will admit of no expectation but that of uniform, or rather ever-growing misery; a state that excludes all hopes of making a figure, except as the monuments of the vindictive justice of God, and the deadly effects of sin.
III. Is it possible to escape this impending danger?
1. Your case is not yet desperate, unless you choose to make it so; that is, unless you choose to persist in carelessness and impenitence, as you have hitherto done.
2. You all know that prayer, reading, and hearing the Word of God, meditation upon Divine things, free conference with such as have been taught by experience to direct you in this difficult work; you all know, I say, that these are the means instituted for your conversion: and if you had right views of things, and a just temper towards them, you would hardly need instruction or the least persuasion to make use of them. (S. Davies, D. D.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》
28 Chapter 28
INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH 28
Thus chapter relates a false prophecy of Hananiah, who broke off the yoke from Jeremiah; but in return the people are threatened with an iron yoke, and he with death; which came to pass. The time, place, and substance of his prophecy, are in Jeremiah 28:1; Jeremiah's answer to it, Jeremiah 28:5; Hananiah breaks Jeremiah's yoke, and explains the meaning of it to the people, Jeremiah 28:10; Jeremiah prophesies that iron yokes should be given instead of wooden ones, Jeremiah 28:12; and foretells the death of the false prophet, Jeremiah 28:15.
And it came to pass the same year,.... That the prophet was bid to make yokes and bonds, and send them to the neighbouring kings, whose ambassadors were in Zedekiah's court; and when he spoke the things related in the preceding chapter to Zedekiah, the priests, and people:
in the beginning the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah; perhaps in the first year of his reign:
in the fourth year, and in the fifth month; not in the fourth year of Zedekiah's reign, though the Septuagint and A table versions so render it; since his reign was but eleven years in all, and therefore the fourth could not be called with so much propriety the beginning of his reign: though, according to Jarchi, it was the fourth of Zedekiah's reign, the same year in which he paid a visit to the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:59; and was not only confirmed in his kingdom by him, but, according to the same writer, had it enlarged, and was made king over five neighbouring kings; and so this, though the fourth of his reign over Judah, was the first of his enlarged dominions: but rather this was the fourth year of the sabbatical year, or the fourth after the seventh year's rest of the land, as Kimchi observes; which was the first of Zedekiah's reign, who reigned eleven years, and the temple was destroyed at the end of a sabbatical year; in which he is followed by many, though there is nothing in the text or context that directs to it. Some divide Zedekiah's reign into three parts, the beginning, and middle, and end; and so what was done within the first four years of his reign might be said to be in the beginning of it. Others think that here are two distinct dates; that the former respects the things in the preceding chapter, which were in the beginning of his reign; and the latter that affair of Hananiah, which was in the fourth year of it. But NoldiusF13Concord. Ebr. Partic. p. 143. No. 677. , after GlassiusF14Philolog. Sacr. l. 4. p. 625. , gets clear of the difficulties of this text, by rendering the words, "and it was from that year, the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, unto the fourth year of his reign"; that is, the prophet went on for the space of four years, signifying the will of the Lord by words and types; when in the fifth month of the fourth year, which was the month of Ab, answering to part of our July and of August,
Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet; the false prophet, as the Targum, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions call him,
which was of Gibeon; a city of the priests; so might be a priest, though not the high priest, as some have thought:
spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests,
and of all the people; he came to the temple, where Jeremiah was, to confront him; and he addressed himself to him, the priests and all the people being present, who were come thither to minister and worship:
saying; as follows:
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,.... Using the language of the true prophets, and describing the Lord just in the same manner they do, when coming from him, and speaking in his name: a bold and daring action, when he knew the Lord had not sent him, nor had said any such thing to him: he next relates with all assurance,
saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon; which he had put upon the neck of the king of Judah; signifying that he should be no more subject to him; that is, he had determined to do it, and would do it, in a very short time.
Within two full years,.... Or, "within two years of days"F15בעוד שנתים ימים "in adhuc duobis anois dierum", Montanus; "intra adhuc biennium dierum", Schmidt; "intra biennum dierum", Cocceius. ; when they are up to a day. The Targum is,
"at the end of two years;'
what the false prophets before had said would be done in a very little time; this fixes the precise time of doing it; a very short time, in comparison of the seventy years that Jeremiah had spoken of, Jeremiah 25:11;
will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place; the temple, where he now was; namely, all such vessels as before this time had been taken by him, both in Jehoiakim's reign, and at the captivity of Jeconiah:
and carried them to Babylon; where they still remained, and according to Jeremiah still would; and were so far from being brought back in a short time, that what were left would be carried thither also, Jeremiah 27:19.
And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah,.... This he knew would please the people, who looked upon Zedekiah only as a deputy of the king of Babylon, and not properly their king; but Jeconiah, as he is here called; and he knew that Zedekiah dared not resent this, but was obliged to feigned a desire of Jeconiah's return, though otherwise not agreeable to him:
with all the captives of Judah that went into Babylon, saith the Lord; the princes, officers, and others, that should be living at the time fixed:
for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon; weaken his power over other nations, and particularly deliver the king of Judah from his bondage, and from subjection to him.
Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah,.... The false prophet, as he is called by the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions:
in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord; waiting and worshipping in the temple; and said boldly and before them all, in answer to Hananiah's prophecy, what follows.
Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen,.... Or, "so be it"; he wished it might be so as Hananiah had said, if it was the will of God; as a prophet he knew it could not be; as an Israelite, out of respect to his country, he wished it might be; or, however, he wished that they would repent of their sins, that the evil he had threatened them with might not come upon them, and the good that Hananiah had prophesied might be fulfilled:
the Lord do so: the Lord perform the words which thou hast prophesied; such a hearty regard had he for his country, that, were it the Lord's pleasure to do this, he could be content to be accounted a false prophet, and Hananiah the true one; it was very desirable to him to have this prophecy confirmed and fulfilled by the Lord. The JewsF16T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 41. 2. &, 42. 1. have a saying, that whoever deals hypocritically with his friend, at last falls into his hand, or the hands of his son, or son's son; and so they suppose Jeremiah acted hypocritically with Hananiah, and therefore fell into the hands of the son of his son's son, Jeremiah 37:13; but he rather spoke ironically, as some think:
to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, to Babylon into this place; as a priest, this must be very desirable to Jeremiah, the Jews observe, since he would be a gainer by it; being a priest, he should eat of the holy things; when Hananiah, being a Gibeonite, would be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water to him.
Nevertheless, hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears,.... Though this would be very acceptable to me, and I should be glad to have it fulfilled; yet carefully attend to what I am about to say, it being what greatly concerns thee to observe, as well as all present to listen to: and therefore it is added,
and in the ears of all the people; that stood round to hear the conversation that passed between the two prophets.
The prophets that have been before me, and before thee of old,.... Such as Isaiah, Hoses, Joel, Amos, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and others: these
prophesied both against many countries and against great kingdoms; as Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Ethiopia, Moab, &c. as Isaiah particularly did:
of war, and of evil, and of pestilence; by evil some think is meant famine, because that usually goes along with the other mentioned, and there being but one letter in which the words for evil and famine differ; and now the prophets that prophesied of these were sent of God, were the true prophets of the Lord; and therefore this ought not to be objected to the prejudice of Jeremiah, that his prophecies were of this sort: yea, if they should not come to pass, yet a man is not to be counted a false prophet, because such things are threatened in case nations do not repent of their sins and reform, which they may do; and then the evils threatened are prevented, as in the case of the Ninevites.
The prophet which prophesieth of peace,.... Of prosperity, of good things, as Hananiah did, and which are always acceptable to men; and such a prophet is agreeable to them:
when the word of the Lord shall come to pass; when the prophecy of good things, which he delivers in the name of the Lord, shall be filled:
then shall the prophet be known that the Lord hath truly sent him; and not till then; it is the event that must make it manifest: in the other case it may be in a good measure known before it comes to pass, and, whether it comes to pass or not, that a prophet is a true prophet; because his prophecies are agreeable to the word and the declared will of God; contain evils threatened on account of sin, and in order to bring men to repentance, which must needs be right; and besides, they have no interest of their own to serve, but run contrary to the stream of the people, and are exposed to their rage and censure: whereas, a man that prophesies of peace, he is more to be suspected of flattering the people, and of prophesying out of his own heart; and nothing but the event can show him a true prophet; which if he delivers with a proviso, that the people do not do that which is evil in the sight of God, to provoke him to deny them the promised good, is always certainly fulfilled; and if it is not, then he appears manifestly a false prophet.
Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck,.... Which he wore as a symbol of the subjection of Judea, and other nations, to the king of Babylon: an impudent and insolent action this was, to take the prophet's yoke from his neck; and the more so, as it was by the command of God that he made it, and wore it:
and brake it; being made of wood, as it afterwards appears, and so might easily be broken.
And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people,.... Explaining to them his meaning, in taking the yoke, and breaking it:
saying, thus saith the Lord; wickedly making use of the Lord's name, to give countenance to his words and actions:
even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations, within the space of two full years; the time he had fixed for the bringing back of the vessels of the sanctuary, Jeremiah 28:3;
and the prophet Jeremiah went his way; showing thereby his dissent from him, and his dislike and detestation of his lies and blasphemies; patiently bearing his affronts and insolence; and prudently withdrawing to prevent riots and tumults; returning no answer till he had received one from the Lord himself, which he quickly had.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet,.... When in his own house or apartment, to which he retired; and this came to him either in a vision or dream, or by some articulate voice, or by an impulse upon his spirit, directing him what to say to the false prophet:
after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the Prophet Jeremiah: how long afterwards is not known, perhaps the same day; or, however, it is certain it was in the same year, and less than two months after, Jeremiah 28:17; and very probably in a few hours after:
saying; as follows:
Go and tell Hananiah, saying, thus saith the Lord,.... Whose name he had abused; whose prophet he had ill treated; and whose prophecies he had contradicted, and the symbols of them had contumeliously used:
thou hast broken the yokes of wood: or, "bonds", or "the thongs"F17מוטת עץ "lora lignea", Junius & Tremellius. ; with which the yokes of wood were bound and fastened, as Kimchi interprets it:
but thou shall make for them yokes of iron; not Hananiah, but Jeremiah; who should prophesy of a more severe bondage the nations should be brought into by Nebuchadnezzar, in direct contradiction to Hananiah's prophecy; instead of wooden yokes, they should have iron ones; which should lie heavier, and bear harder upon them, and which could not be broken nor taken off.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel,.... Under which titles he is often spoken of; and which he uses, when he delivered anything to his prophets to declare in his name to others:
I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations: mentioned in Jeremiah 27:3;
that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; directly contrary to what Hananiah had prophesied, Jeremiah 28:11; that his yoke should be broke off from them; but instead of that, it should become heavier unto them, and they should be obliged to serve him, whether they would or not; and refusing to pay tribute to him, should be carried captive by him, as had been foretold:
and I have given him the beasts of the field also; as he had said he would, Jeremiah 27:6; and which is repeated, to show that the whole would be punctually fulfilled; that not only those nations, the men, the inhabitants of them, would be delivered to him; but even the very cattle, and all that belonged to them.
Then said Jeremiah the prophet unto Hananiah the prophet,.... The false prophet, as he is again called by the Targum, and in the Syriac version; where he went to him, and met with him, whether in the temple or elsewhere, is not mentioned; very probably in some public place, that there might be witnesses of what was said; for it was for the conviction of others, as well as for his own confusion, the following things are observed:
hear now, Hananiah, the Lord hath not sent thee; though he spoke in his name, and pretended a mission from him, when he had none, which was abominable wickedness:
but thou makest this people to trust in a lie: that the Lord would break off the yoke of the king of Babylon, and free the nations from servitude to him, particularly Judea; and that the king, and his princes, and people, and the vessels of the temple, carried away with him, would be returned within two years; this the people depended on as coming from the Lord, when he was not sent by him.
Therefore thus saith the Lord,.... Because of this heinous offence, in lying in the name of the Lord, and deceiving the people:
behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth; with the utmost indignation and abhorrence, as not worthy to live upon it: it signifies that he should die, and that not a natural, but violent death, by the immediate hand of God, by some judgment upon him; and so be by force taken off the earth, and buried in it, and be no more seen on it:
this year thou shalt die; within the present year, reckoning from this time; so that, had he died any time within twelve months from hence, it would have been sufficient to have verified the prophecy:
because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord; to despise his word by his prophet; to contradict his will; to refuse subjection to the king of Babylon; to neglect his instructions, directions, and exhortations; and to believe a lie.
So Hananiah the prophet died the same year,.... That he had delivered out his prophecy; in the same year in which Jeremiah said he should die; which proved him to be a false prophet, and Jeremiah to be a true one:
in the seventh month: it was two months after he had prophesied; for it was in the fifth month that he prophesied, and in the seventh he died; not after seven months, as Theodoret remarks, but in two months; so he that prophesied, that within two years what he foretold would come to pass, in two months time dies himself, according to the word of the Lord, and his prophecies die with him. The Jewish writers move a difficulty here, how he should be said to die the same year, when the seventh month was the beginning of another year; for the civil year of the Jews began from the seventh month, or the month Tisri; as their ecclesiastical year from the month Nisan or Abib. To solve this they observe a tradition, that he died the last day of the sixth month, or the eve of the new year; and ordered his sons and his servants, before his death, to hide it, and not bring him out to be buried till after the year was begun, to make Jeremiah a liar: to which agrees the Targum, both of the clause in Jeremiah 28:16; and this; the former of which it paraphrases thus,
"this year shall thou die; and in the other year (or the year following) thou shalt be buried;'
and this verse thus,
"and Hananiah the false prophet died this year, and was buried in the seventh month:'
but there was no occasion to raise such a difficulty, since it would have been enough to have verified the prediction, that he died any time within the twelve months from the date of it; and, besides, the solution makes the difficulty greater, and contradicts the very text, which says, he died in the seventh month.
──《John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible》