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Jeremiah 22:13-19

Context
Judgment on Jehoiakim

22:13 “‘Sure to be judged 1  is the king who builds his palace using injustice

and treats people unfairly while adding its upper rooms. 2 

He makes his countrymen work for him for nothing.

He does not pay them for their labor.

22:14 He says, “I will build myself a large palace

with spacious upper rooms.”

He cuts windows in its walls,

panels it 3  with cedar, and paints its rooms red. 4 

22:15 Does it make you any more of a king

that you outstrip everyone else in 5  building with cedar?

Just think about your father.

He was content that he had food and drink. 6 

He did what was just and right. 7 

So things went well with him.

22:16 He upheld the cause of the poor and needy.

So things went well for Judah.’ 8 

The Lord says,

‘That is a good example of what it means to know me.’ 9 

22:17 But you are always thinking and looking

for ways to increase your wealth by dishonest means.

Your eyes and your heart are set

on killing some innocent person

and committing fraud and oppression. 10 

22:18 So 11  the Lord has this to say about Josiah’s son, King Jehoiakim of Judah:

People will not mourn for him, saying,

“This makes me sad, my brother!

This makes me sad, my sister!”

They will not mourn for him, saying,

“Poor, poor lord! Poor, poor majesty!” 12 

22:19 He will be left unburied just like a dead donkey.

His body will be dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem.’” 13 

1 sn Heb “Woe.” This particle is used in laments for the dead (cf., e.g., 1 Kgs 13:30; Jer 34:5) and as an introductory particle in indictments against a person on whom judgment is pronounced (cf., e.g., Isa 5:8, 11; Jer 23:1). The indictment is found here in vv. 13-17 and the announcement of judgment in vv. 18-19.

2 tn Heb “Woe to the one who builds his house by unrighteousness and its upper rooms with injustice using his neighbor [= countryman] as a slave for nothing and not giving to him his wages.”

sn This was a clear violation of covenant law (cf. Deut 24:14-15) and a violation of the requirements set forth in Jer 22:3. The allusion is to Jehoiakim who is not mentioned until v. 18. He was placed on the throne by Pharaoh Necho and ruled from 609-598 b.c. He became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar but rebelled against him, bringing about the siege of 597 b.c. in which his son and many of the Judean leaders were carried off to Babylon (2 Kgs 23:34–24:16). He was a wicked king according to the author of the book of Kings (2 Kgs 23:37). He had Uriah the prophet killed (Jer 26:23) and showed no regard for Jeremiah’s prophecies, destroying the scroll containing them (Jer 36:23) and ordering Jeremiah’s arrest (Jer 36:23).

3 tc The MT should be emended to read חַלֹּנָיו וְסָפוֹן (khallonayv vÿsafon) instead of חַלֹּנָי וְסָפוּן (khallonay vÿsafon), i.e., the plural noun with third singular suffix rather than the first singular suffix and the infinitive absolute rather than the passive participle. The latter form then parallels the form for “paints” and functions in the same way (cf. GKC 345 §113.z for the infinitive with vav [ו] continuing a perfect). The errors in the MT involve reading the וְ once instead of twice (haplography) and reading the וּ (u) for the וֹ (o).

4 tn The word translated “red” only occurs here and in Ezek 23:14 where it refers to the pictures of the Babylonians on the wall of the temple. Evidently this was a favorite color for decoration. It is usually identified as vermilion, a mineral product from red ocher (cf. C. L. Wickwire, “Vermilion,” IDB 4:748).

5 tn For the use of this verb see Jer 12:5 where it is used of Jeremiah “competing” with horses. The form is a rare Tiphel (see GKC 153 §55.h).

6 tn Heb “Your father, did he not eat and drink and do justice and right.” The copulative vav in front of the verbs here (all Hebrew perfects) shows that these actions are all coordinate not sequential. The contrast drawn here between the actions of Jehoiakim and Josiah show that the phrase eating and drinking should be read in the light of the same contrasts in Eccl 2 which ends with the note of contentment in Eccl 2:24 (see also Eccl 3:13; 5:18 [5:17 HT]; 8:15). The question is, of course, rhetorical setting forth the positive role model against which Jehoiakim’s actions are to be condemned. The key terms here are “then things went well with him” which is repeated in the next verse after the reiteration of Josiah’s practice of justice.

7 sn The father referred to here is the godly king Josiah. He followed the requirements for kings set forth in 22:3 in contrast to his son who did not (22:13).

8 tn The words “for Judah” are not in the text, but the absence of the preposition plus object as in the preceding verse suggests that this is a more general statement, i.e., “things went well for everyone.”

9 tn Heb “Is that not what it means to know me.” The question is rhetorical and expects a positive answer. It is translated in the light of the context.

sn Comparison of the usage of the words “know me” in their context in Jer 2:8; 9:3, 6, 24 and here will show that more than mere intellectual knowledge is involved. It involves also personal commitment to God and obedience to the demands of the agreements with him. The word “know” is used in ancient Near Eastern treaty contexts of submission to the will of the overlord. See further the notes on 9:3.

10 tn Heb “Your eyes and your heart do not exist except for dishonest gain and for innocent blood to shed [it] and for fraud and for oppression to do [them].” The sentence has been broken up to conform more to English style and the significance of “eyes” and “heart” explained before they are introduced into the translation.

11 sn This is the regular way of introducing the announcement of judgment after an indictment of crimes. See, e.g., Isa 5:13, 14; Jer 23:2.

12 tn The translation follows the majority of scholars who think that the address of brother and sister are the address of the mourners to one another, lamenting their loss. Some scholars feel that all four terms are parallel and represent the relation that the king had metaphorically to his subjects; i.e., he was not only Lord and Majesty to them but like a sister or a brother. In that case something like: “How sad it is for the one who was like a brother to us! How sad it is for the one who was like a sister to us.” This makes for poor poetry and is not very likely. The lover can call his bride sister in Song of Solomon (Song 4:9, 10) but there are no documented examples of a subject ever speaking of a king in this way in Israel or the ancient Near East.

13 sn A similar judgment against this ungodly king is pronounced by Jeremiah in 36:30. According to 2 Chr 36:6 he was bound over to be taken captive to Babylon but apparently died before he got there. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar ordered his body thrown outside the wall in fulfillment of this judgment. The Bible itself, however, does not tell us that.

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.



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