John T. Willis

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jeremiah's Conflict with Judah's Princes, Priests, Prophets and People--Jeremiah 26:1-24

Jeremiah 26-29 form a coherent unity of three conflicts of Jeremiah, dating from different times during his lifetime. The first conflict is between Jeremiah and the princes, priests, prophets and people of Judah, recorded in Jeremiah 26. This paragraph falls into three parts.

I. All Judah opposes Jeremiah, but are divided over his sentence. Jeremiah 26:1-16.
a. Jeremiah 26:1 dates this paragraph "at the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah," which would be between 609 and 605 BCE. Jeremiah 27:1; 28:1 show that "at the beginning of" does not necessarily mean THE VERY FIRST YEAR of the reign of a king, but may include the first three or four years of that king's reign. 26:1.
b. 26:2-6 is an "outline" of Jeremiah's sermon proclaimed in more detail in Jeremiah 7:1-15. Hence, the date of Jeremiah 7:1-15 is between 609 and 605 BCE. This sermon declares that Yahweh is about to punish his sinful people if they do not repent. God's people had rejected God's law and God's prophets for many centuries. Their way of life had become a habit of sin and rebellion. Thus, Yahweh announces that he will punish Judah and Jerusalem, including the Jerusalem temple, just as Yahweh had punished North Israel, including Shiloh and the Shiloh temple--see
1 Samuel 4:12-22; Jeremiah 7:12-15. 26:2-6.
c. The princes, priests, prophets, and people of Judah attack Jeremiah when they hear Jeremiah's message, and declare: "You shall die!" "This may deserves the sentence of death because he has prophesied against this city=Jerusalem, the city of God." 26:7-11.
d. Jeremiah responds by going to the princes and people of Judah, declaring that Yahweh sent Jeremiah to prophesy against the Jerusalem temple and the city of Jerusalem because of their sins. Yahweh through Jeremiah summons God's people to amend their ways and doings and obey Yahweh. If they will do this, Yahweh will change his mind and deliver them. 26:12-13.
e. Then Jeremiah declares he is willing to do whatever his people say. The princes and people go to the priests and prophets of Judah, declaring that even though they differ with Jeremiah's message, Jeremiah "does not deserve the sentence of death." 26:14-16.

II. The Precedent of Micah. Jeremiah 26:17-19.
The elders of Judah, speaking in behalf of the princes and people of Judah, rehearse the precent of the prophet Micah, who preached in Judah between ca. 730-700 BCE. Micah declares that Yahweh will destroy the Jerusalem temple and the city of Jerusalem. Micah 3:9-12. But King Hezekiah heeded Micah's message, and Hezekiah and the people of Judah repented. Accordingly, Yahweh "changed his mind" and delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians under King Sennacherib. 2 Kings 19:8-37. Logically, the elders of Judah conclude that we must not put Jeremiah to death.

III. The Precedent of Uriah. Jeremiah 26:20-24.
a. The text relates another situation concerning the prophet Uriah from Kiriath-jearim. Uriah announced the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. King Jehoiakim sought to kill him, and Uriah fled to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent a group of soldiers to bring Uriah back, and then killed Uriah. This contains a precedent to kill Jeremiah for proclaiming the same message. 26:20-23.
b. At the last moment, a very influential individual in Judah named Ahikam, son of Shaphan, spoke up and persuaded the people of Judah not to put Jeremiah to death. 26:24.

Just one courageous, faithful person of integrity can change the hearts and lives of many people. Hence, the people of Judah listened to the view of Ahikam.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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