1Thus says the LORD: Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and there deliver this word: 2You shall say: Listen to the word of the LORD, king of Judah, who sit on the throne of David, you, your ministers, and your people who enter by these gates!a 3Thus says the LORD: Do what is right and just. Rescue the victims from the hand of their oppressors. Do not wrong or oppress the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.b 4If you carry out these commands, kings who succeed to the throne of David will continue to enter the gates of this house, riding in chariots or mounted on horses, with their ministers, and their people. 5But if you do not obey these commands, I swear by myself—oracle of the LORD: this house shall become rubble. 6For thus says the LORD concerning the house of the king of Judah:
Though you be to me like Gilead,
like the peak of Lebanon,
I swear I shall turn you into a waste,
with cities uninhabited.
7Against you I will send destroyers,
each with their tools:
They shall cut down your choice cedars,
and cast them into the fire.c
8Many nations will pass by this city and ask one another: “Why has the LORD done this to so great a city?”d 9And they will be told: “Because they have deserted their covenant with the LORD, their God, by worshiping and serving other gods.”e
10Do not weep for him who is dead,*
nor mourn for him!
Weep rather for him who is going away;
never again to see
the land of his birth.f
11Thus says the LORD concerning Shallum,* son of Josiah, king of Judah, his father’s successor, who left this place: He shall never return, 12but in the place where they exiled him, there he shall die; he shall never see this land again.
13Woe to him who builds his house on wrongdoing,
his roof-chambers on injustice;
Who works his neighbors without pay,*
and gives them no wages.g
14Who says, “I will build myself a spacious house,
with airy rooms,”
Who cuts out windows for it,
panels it with cedar,
and paints it with vermilion.
15Must you prove your rank among kings*
by competing with them in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink,
And act justly and righteously?
Then he prospered.h
16Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor,
Is this not to know me?—
oracle of the LORD.i
17But your eyes and heart are set on nothing
except your own gain,
On shedding innocent blood
and practicing oppression and extortion.j
They shall not lament him,
“Alas! my brother”; “Alas! sister.”*
They shall not lament him,
“Alas, Lord! alas, Majesty!”k
19The burial of a donkey* he shall be given,
dragged forth and cast out
beyond the gates of Jerusalem.l
20Climb Lebanon and cry out,*
in Bashan lift up your voice;
Cry out from Abarim,
for all your lovers are crushed.m
21I spoke to you when you were secure,
but you answered, “I will not listen.”
This has been your way from your youth,
not to listen to my voice.
22The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds,
your lovers shall go into exile.
Surely then you shall be ashamed and confounded
because of all your wickedness.
23You who dwell on Lebanon,
who nest in the cedars,
How you shall groan when pains come upon you,
like the pangs of a woman in childbirth!
24As I live—oracle of the LORD—even if you, Coniah,* son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were a signet ringn on my right hand, I would snatch you off. 25I will hand you over to those who seek your life, to those you dread: Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the Chaldeans.o 26I will cast you out, you and the mother who bore you,* into a land different from the land of your birth; and there you will die;p 27Neither shall return to the land for which they yearn.q
28Is this man Coniah a thing despised, to be broken,
a vessel that no one wants?
Why are he and his offspring cast out?
why thrown into a land they do not know?
29O land, land, land,
hear the word of the LORD—
30Thus says the LORD:
a man who will never prosper in his life!
Nor shall any of his descendants prosper,
to sit upon the throne of David,
to rule again over Judah.
* [22:13] Without pay: either by forced labor in public works, or by defrauding the workers. Despite the impoverishment caused in Judah by the payment of foreign tribute, Jehoiakim embarked on a building program in Jerusalem (v. 14); cedar was an expensive building material which had to be imported. Social injustice is the cause of much of the prophetic condemnation of the kings (v. 17).
* [22:15–16] The rule of Josiah, Jehoiakim’s father, shows that authentic kingship is rooted in knowledge of the Lord and creates a society in which the most disadvantaged can expect and receive justice.
* [22:18] “Alas! my brother”; “Alas! sister”: customary cries of mourning.
* [22:19] The burial of a donkey: no burial at all, except to be cast outside the city as refuse. This prophecy describes the popular feeling toward Jehoiakim rather than the actual circumstances of his burial. According to 2 Kgs 24:5 he was buried with his ancestors in Jerusalem.
* [22:20–23] The prophet first bids Jerusalem to scale Lebanon, Bashan, and Abarim, i.e., the highest surrounding mountains to the north, northeast, and southeast, and gaze on the ruin of its lovers, i.e., the false leaders of Judah, called its shepherds (v. 22); cf. 2:8. Jerusalem still stands (v. 23), apparently as secure as the heights of Lebanon, but destruction is to follow (cf. v. 6).
* [22:24] Coniah: a shortened form of Jeconiah, the name Jeremiah gives King Jehoiachin (cf. 24:1). A signet ring: the seal used by kings and other powerful figures—a symbol of their power and status—mounted in a ring worn constantly on the hand. The Lord says that even were Jehoiachin such a precious possession, he would reject him. Hg 2:23 uses the same imagery to signal the restoration of Zerubbabel. The words in Jer 22:24–30 date from the short three-month reign of Jehoiachin, before he was deported by Nebuchadnezzar.
* [22:26] You and the mother who bore you: the queen mother held a special position in the monarchy of Judah, and in the Books of Kings she is invariably mentioned by name along with the king (1 Kgs 15:2; 2 Kgs 18:2). Jehoiachin did indeed die in Babylon.
* [22:30] Childless: Jehoiachin is considered childless because none of his seven sons became king. His grandson Zerubbabel presided for a time over the Judahite community after the return from exile, but not as king. According to Ezekiel, whose oracles are dated by Jehoiachin’s fictitious regnal years, the people expected Jehoiachin to return. Jeremiah’s prophecy dispels this hope, despite the words of Hananiah (28:4).