Jeremiah 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,
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(1) The fourth year of Jehoiakim . . .—The prophetic message that follows is brought by the date thus given into close contact with Jeremiah 25, and it is a reasonable inference that we have in that chapter the substance of part, at least, of what was written by Baruch from the prophet’s dictation in Jeremiah 36:4. The contents exactly agree with the description of the prophecy given here in Jeremiah 36:2.

Jeremiah 36:1. And it came to pass, &c. — Jeremiah here inserts a history of some things which related to, or had a connection with, his prophecies; (as we find Isaiah did with regard to his;) and, accordingly, we are here informed how they came to be written, namely, by the express order of God, that they might stand upon record before the things foretold came to pass; so that there might be no room to say he had never prophesied such and such things, or that the prophecies were made after the things they pretended to foretel had happened. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim this word came unto Jeremiah — It is uncertain whether what is related in this chapter happened during the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, (for the city was besieged in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 2 Kings 24:1-2,) or after the siege, when Jehoiakim was escaped from the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. It seems probable from what follows, particularly from Jeremiah 36:9, that it happened at or near the end of the fourth year, when Nebuchadnezzar was retired. For Jeremiah says nothing of the siege, and he orders Baruch to read his prophecies before an assembly of the people who had come to Jerusalem out of their cities, Jeremiah 36:6, which certainly implies that Jerusalem was not then in a state of siege. See Calmet.

36:1-8 The writing of the Scriptures was by Divine appointment. The Divine wisdom directed to this as a proper means; if it failed, the house of Judah would be the more without excuse. The Lord declares to sinners the evil he purposes to do against them, that they may hear, and fear, and return from their evil ways; and whenever any one makes this use of God's warnings, in dependence on his promised mercy, he will find the Lord ready to forgive his sins. All others will be left without excuse; and the consideration that great is the anger God has pronounced against us for sin, should quicken both our prayers and our endeavours.In the fourth year of Jehoiakim - See Jeremiah 25:1 note. The present chapter belongs to the very end of that year. The capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar took place early in Jehoiakim's fourth year, long before the writing of Jehoiakim's scroll. The humiliation seems to have sunk deeply into the heart of Jehoiakim, and when Jeremiah prophesied extended dominion to the Chaldaeans Jeremiah 36:29, his anger knew no bounds. It was the fact that judgment had begun which made it expedient to gather Jeremiah's predictions into one volume, with the object:

(1) of inducing the people to repent, and

(2) of persuading the king to be a true subject of the Chaldaean empire.


Jer 36:1-32. Baruch Writes, and Reads Publicly Jeremiah's Prophecies Collected in a Volume. The Roll Is Burnt by Jehoiakim, and Written Again by Baruch at Jeremiah's Dictation.

1. fourth year—The command to write the roll was given in the fourth year, but it was not read publicly till the fifth year. As Isaiah subjoined to his predictions a history of events confirming his prophecies (Isa 36:1-22; 37:1-38; 38:1-22; 39:1-8), so Jeremiah also in the thirty-seventh through forty-third chapters; but he prefaces his history with the narrative of an incident that occurred some time ago, showing that he, not only by word, but in writing, and that twice, had testified all that he about to state as having subsequently come to pass [Grotius]. At the end of Jehoiakim's third year, Nebuchadnezzar enrolled an army against Jerusalem and took it in the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth year, carrying away captive Jehoiakim, Daniel, &c. Jehoiakim returned the same year, and for three years was tributary: then he withheld tribute. Nebuchadnezzar returned and took Jerusalem, and carried off Jehoiakim, who died on the road. This harmonizes this chapter with 2Ki 24:1-20 and Da 1:1-21. See on [946]Jer 22:19.Jeremiah causeth Baruch to write his prophecy, and publicly to read it, Jeremiah 36:1-10. The princes send to fetch the roll and read it, Jeremiah 36:11-18. They advise Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves, Jeremiah 36:19. The king Jehoiakim teareth part of the roll, and burneth it, Jeremiah 36:20-26. Jeremiah denounceth his judgment, Jeremiah 36:27-31. Baruch writeth a new copy, Jeremiah 36:32.

Jehoiakim was three years a tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, as we read, 2 Kings 24:1, then he rebelled; which three years are judged to be the sixth, seventh, and eighth years of his reign, for Pharaoh-nechoh set him up, to whom he was first a tributary, as we read, 2 Kings 23:35. Pharaoh-nechoh having conquered him, Jehoiakim became servant to the conqueror three years, then rebelled; upon which the armies of the Chaldeans, with the Syrians, &c., came up against him, and carried him away. This word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the first year that he was tributary to the king of Babylon, which was the fourth year of his reign.

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah,.... Eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem:

that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord; the following order to write in a roll all his prophecies he had hitherto delivered:

saying; as follows:

And it came to pass in the fourth {a} year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

(a) Read Geneva Jer 25:1

Jeremiah 36:1In the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, bidding him commit to writing all the addresses he had previously delivered, that Judah might, if it were possible, still regard the threatenings and return (Jeremiah 36:1-3). In accordance with this command, he got all the words of the Lord written down in a book by his attendant Baruch, with the further instruction that this should be read on the fast-day in the temple to the people who came out of the country into Jerusalem (Jeremiah 36:4-8). When, after this, in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, a fast was appointed, Baruch read the prophecies to the assembled people in the chamber of Gemariah in the temple. Michaiah the son of Gemariah mentioned the matter to the princes who were assembled in the royal palace; these then sent for Baruch with the roll, and made him read it to them. But they were so frightened by what was read to them that they deemed it necessary to inform the king regarding it (Jeremiah 36:9-19). At their advice, the king had the roll brought and some of it read before him; but scarcely had some few columns been read, when he cut the roll into pieces and threw them into the pan of coals burning in the room, at the same time commanding that Baruch and Jeremiah should be brought to him; but God hid them (Jeremiah 36:20-26). After this roll had been burnt, the Lord commanded the prophet to get all his words written on a new roll, and to predict an ignominious fate for King Jehoiakim; whereupon Jeremiah once more dictated his addresses to Baruch (Jeremiah 36:27-32).

Since Jeremiah, according to Jeremiah 36:3, Jeremiah 36:6, Jeremiah 36:7, is to get his addresses written down that Baruch may be able to read them publicly on the fast-day, now at hand, because he himself was prevented from getting to the temple, the intention of the divine command was not to make the prophet put down in writing and gather together all the addresses he had hitherto given, but the writing down is merely to serve as a means of once more presenting to the people the whole contents of his prophecies, in order to induce them, wherever it was possible, to return to the Lord. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, after vanquishing the Egyptians at the Euphrates, advanced against Judah, took Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim tributary. In the same year, too, Jeremiah had delivered the prophecy regarding the giving up of Judah and all nations for seventy years into the power of the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25); this was before he had been bidden write down all his addresses. For, that he did not receive this command till towards the end of the fourth year, may be gathered with certainty from the fact that the public reading of the addresses, after they were written down, was to take place on the fast-day, which, according to Jeremiah 36:9, was not held till the ninth month of the fifth year. The only doubtful point is, whether they were written down and read before or after the first capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Most modern commentators take the former view; e.g., Hitzig says, briefly and decidedly, "According to Jeremiah 36:29, the Chaldeans had not as yet appeared in the country." But this is not mentioned in Jeremiah 36:29. The threatening in this verse, "The king of Babylon shall come and destroy this land, and exterminate men and beasts from it," does not prove that the king of Babylon had not yet come to Judah, but merely that the country had not yet been destroyed, and men and cattle exterminated from it. When Jerusalem was first taken, Nebuchadnezzar contented himself with subjecting Jehoiakim under his supreme authority and requiring the payment of tribute, as well as carrying away some of the vessels of the temple and some hostages. The devastation of Judah and the extirpation of men and beasts did not commence till the second subjugation of Jerusalem under Jehoiakim, and was completed when the city was utterly destroyed, in Zedekiah's time, on its third subjugation. The settlement of the question that has been raised depends on the determination of the object for which the special fast-day in the fifth year was appointed, whether for averting the threatened invasion by the Chaldeans, or as a memorial of the first capture of Jerusalem. This question we have already so far decided in the Commentary on Daniel, at Jeremiah 1:1, where it is stated that the fast was held in remembrance of that day in the year when Jerusalem was taken for the first time by Nebuchadnezzar; we have also remarked in the same place, that Jehoiakim either appointed or permitted this special fast "for the purpose of rousing the popular feeling against the Chaldeans, to whom they were in subjection, - to evoke in the people a religious enthusiasm in favour of resistance; for Jehoiakim keenly felt the subjugation by the Chaldeans, and from the first thought of revolt." However, every form of resistance to the king of Babylon could only issue in the ruin of Judah. Accordingly, Jeremiah made Baruch read his prophecies publicly to the people assembled in the temple on that day, "by way of counterpoise to the king's desire;" the prophet also bade him announce to the king that the king of Babylon would come, i.e., return, to destroy the land, and to root out of it both men and beasts. These circumstances give the first complete explanation of the terror of the princes when they listened to the reading of the book (Jeremiah 36:16), as well as of the wrath of the king, exhibited by his cutting the book in pieces and throwing it into the fire: he saw that the addresses of the prophet were more calculated to damp those religious aspirations of the people on which he based his hopes, than to rouse the nation against continued submission to the Chaldeans. Not till now, too, when the object of the appointment of the fast-day was perceived, did the command given by God to the prophet to write down his prophecies appear in its proper light. Shortly before, and in the most earnest manner, Jeremiah had reminded the people of their opposition to the word of God preached by him for twenty-three years, and had announced to them, as a punishment, the seventy years' subjugation to the Chaldeans and the desolation of the country; yet this announcement of the fearful chastisement had made no deeper or more lasting impression on the people. Hence, so long as the threatened judgment was still in the distance, not much could be expected to result from the reading of his addresses in the temple on the fast-day, so that the command of God to do so should appear quite justified. But the matter took a considerably different from when Nebuchadnezzar had actually taken Jerusalem and Jehoiakim had submitted. The commencement of the judgments which had been threatened by God was the proper moment for laying before the hearts of the people, once more, the intense earnestness of the divine message, and for urging them to deeper penitence. Just at this point the reading of the whole contents of the prophecies delivered by Jeremiah appears like a final attempt to preserve the people, on whom judgment has fallen, from complete destruction.

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