Jeremiah 36:1-32 (43:1-32, LXX)

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Jeremiah received a “word” or message from YHWH “in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the king of Judah.” This was the year in which Nebuchadnezzar defeated the troops of Pharaoh Nechoh (Neco, Necho) at Carchemish. (46:2) It also was the year Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon upon the death of his father Nabopolassar. The generally accepted date for these events is 605 BCE. (36:1 (43:1, LXX)

Jeremiah was instructed to make a written record of “all the words” that YHWH had spoken to him “against Israel [Jerusalem (LXX)] and against Judah and against all the nations,” starting from the “days of Josiah” (the thirteenth year of his reign [1:2]) down to the then-present “day” or time. This included YHWH’s messages from a period of about 23 years. (36:2 [43:2, LXX])

YHWH’s purpose for having everything written down on a scroll was so that the “house” or people of Judah would “hear,” when the words were read to them, about “all the evil” or calamity that he would bring upon them and that this might motivate them to repent, with each one of them turning away from “his evil way” or from his corrupt conduct. If the people stopped their lawless ways and repentantly returned to YHWH, he would “forgive [be gracious concerning (LXX)] their iniquity and their sin.” (36:3 [43:3, LXX])

Jeremiah summoned “Baruch the son of Neriah” to write on a scroll, at his dictation (literally, “from the mouth of Jeremiah”), “all the words that YHWH had spoken to him.” (36:4 ]43:4, LXX])

It may be that the leading priests had barred Jeremiah from free access to the temple area on account of his prophesying, for he told Baruch, “I am being restrained [under guard or confined (LXX)]; I cannot go to the house [or temple] of YHWH.” (36:5 [43:5, LXX]) Therefore, he directed Baruch to go to the temple and to “read from the scroll” on which, at his dictation, he had written the “words of YHWH.” Baruch was to do the reading on a “fast day” to the people gathered in the “house of YHWH” or in the temple courtyard. All the people from outside Jerusalem (“all Judah”) who would be coming from their respective cities to the temple were also to have the words of the scroll read to them. On a fast day, more people than usual would be in the temple area, making it possible for many who would otherwise not be there to hear the “words of YHWH.” (36:6 [43:6, LXX])

In view of its being a fast day when the “words of YHWH” would be read, the hope of Jeremiah was that the supplication of the people would come before [literally, before the face of] YHWH, or be made in sincerity for forgiveness, and that each one of them would “turn from his evil way.” Their continuing in the wrong course would have serious consequences, “for great” was “the anger and the wrath” YHWH had “spoken against this people.” (36:7 [43:7, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

“Baruch the son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet commanded him,” reading from the scroll the “words of YHWH in YHWH’s house” (or in the temple precincts). (36:8 [43:8, LXX]) It was “in the fifth year [eighth year (LXX)] of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah [King Jehoiakim (LXX)], in the ninth month (mid-November to mid-December) that “they proclaimed a fast before [literally, before the face of] YHWH.” Apparently to observe this fast, “all the people in Jerusalem” and from other cities of Judah came to the temple. The reason for the fast may have been fear of a serious threat from the Babylonians following their defeat of the Egyptian army at Carchemish. (36:9 [43:9, LXX]; see the Notes section.) “In the house of YHWH” or in the temple precincts, Baruch read from the scroll the words that Jeremiah had dictated to him. The location from which he did the reading to all the people was the “chamber [house (LXX)] of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the new gate of the house of YHWH.” Shaphan, the father of Gemariah, served as a scribe or royal secretary to King Josiah (2 Kings 22:8-12), the father of Jehoiakim. Gemariah probably was also trained as a scribe, and functioned as a prince or high official in the court of King Jehoiakim. Possibly, as he stood in the chamber of Gemariah before an open window that faced the court where the people were gathered, Baruch read to them. (36:10 [43:10, LXX])

“Micaiah the son of Gemariah the son of Shaphan” (or Shapan’s grandson) was among those who heard “all the words of YHWH” that Baruch read publicly from the scroll. (36:11 [43:11, LXX]) He then “went down” from the higher elevation of the temple precincts to the “house of the king” or to the palace complex and entered into the “chamber of the scribe,” the royal secretary Elishama. “All the princes [rulers (LXX) or high officials]” were seated there, including Elishama, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan (probably the father of Nehushta, the wife of Jehoiakim and the mother of Jehoiachin [2 Kings 24:8]) the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, and Zedekiah the son of Hananiah. (36:12 [43:12, LXX]) Micaiah related to them “all the words that he had heard” when Baruch read from the scroll “in the ears [or the hearing] of the people.” (36:13 [43:13, LXX]) “All the princes” (“rulers” [LXX]) then sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, requesting that he come to them with the scroll from which he had read to the people. “Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and went [went down (LXX) from the higher elevation of the temple precincts] to them.” (36:14 [43:14, LXX])

The princes requested that Baruch sit down and read to them from the scroll, and he did so “in their ears” or in their hearing. (36:15 [43:15, LXX]) After having heard all the words that were read to them, the princes (rulers [LXX]) “turned in fear” to one another, possibly on acccount of the severity of YHWH’s judgment against his unfaithful people. The princes also would have been aware of the attitude of King Jehoiakim, and they may have feared that his anger would be aroused. Nevertheless, they felt obligated to report to him “all” the words they had heard. They must have known that he would learn about the public reading of the scroll and would become incensed by a failure on their part to inform him about it. Their report would have been a summary of the contents of the scroll. According to the Septuagint, they “took counsel” with one another and decided to tell the king about the words that had been read to them. (36:16 [43:16, LXX]) The princes asked Baruch how he came to write all the words from Jeremiah’s mouth or at his dictation. Apparently they wanted to make sure they knew just how the work was accomplished in the event that King Jehoiakim questioned them regarding it. (36:17 [43:17, LXX]) Baruch told them that Jeremiah spoke the words and that he then wrote them down on the scroll “with ink.” (36:18 [43:18, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

In view of the contents of the scroll, the princes believed that the king’s reaction would be such as to jeopardize the lives of Baruch and Jeremiah. Therefore, they advised that both he and Jeremiah go into hiding and let no one know of their whereabouts. (36:19 [43:19, LXX])

The princes went into the “court,” apparently the inner palace court, to report to King Jehoiakim everything (or provide him with a basic summary of everything) they had heard, but they did not take the scroll with them, leaving it in the “chamber of Elishama the scribe” or royal secretary. (36:20 [43:20, LXX])

King Jehoiakim sent Jehudi to get the scroll. After taking it “from the chamber [house (LXX)] of Elishama the scribe,” Jehudi read it “in the ears” or in the hearing of the king while “all the princes” or royal officials were standing by. (36:21 [43:21, LXX]) It was cold at the time, for it was the ninth month (mid-November to mid-December). Therefore, King Jehoiakim was sitting in the “winter house [a section of the palace complex that was suitable for occupancy during cold weather],” with a “fire in the brazier burning before him” (literally, “before his face”). (36:22 [43:22, LXX])

After Jehudi read three or four columns of the scroll, that section was cut with the “knife of a scribe,” and then tossed “into the fire in the brazier.” This continued until the entire scroll was consumed in the flames. If Jehudi did the cutting and burning of the scroll, he would have acted at the command of the king. This is made explicit in the Contemporary English Version. “But every time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king would tell him to cut them off with his penknife and throw them in the fire.” Although the closest antecedent for the Hebrew word rendered “he cut” is Jehudi, many other modern translations represent Jehoiakim as the one who cut the scroll and burned it. Verses 25 and 28 provide some support for this interpretive rendering, as these verses attribute the act to the king. “Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.” (NIV) “Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up.” (NLT) “Every time Jehudi read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a penknife and threw them into the fire in the brazier.” (REB) Josephus, in his Antiquities (X, vi, 2), also referred to the king as the one who destroyed the scroll. “When the king heard what [the scroll] contained, he was angry, and tore it, and cast it into the fire, where it was consumed.” (36:23 [43:23, LXX])

Neither King Jehoiakim nor his servants who for the first time heard the reading of the scroll responded with a proper fear or alarm of YHWH’s severe punishment for unfaithfulness to him. The Septuagint says that they “did not seek” or, according to another reading, “were not astonished” or did not come to be beside themselves. They did not tear their garments in expression of distress, sorrow, or repentance. (36:24 [43:24, LXX])

Elnathan, Delaiah (Godolias but Dalaias in verse 12 [LXX], and Gemariah who heard the reading of the words for a second time pleaded with King Jehoiakim “not to burn the scroll,” but he refused to listen to them. (36:25 [43:25, LXX])

King Jehoiakim commanded “Jerahmeel the son of the king and Seraiah the son of Azriel and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet.” They, however, were unsuccessful in the attempt, for YHWH kept both men hidden from them. The expression “son of the king” does not designate an actual son of King Jehoiakim. At the time, Jehoiakim was about 30 years old and, therefore, too young to have had a grown son to send on a mission to apprehend Baruch and Jeremiah. (2 Kings 23:36; Jeremiah 36:9) In this case, “son of the king” could designate a member of the royal family. Another possibility is that “son” here means “servant,” a man in the service of the king. (36:26 [43:26, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

After King Jehoiakim had burned the scroll on which Baruch wrote the words that came from the “mouth of Jeremiah” or the words that the prophet dictated, the “word of YHWH came to Jeremiah.” (36:27 [43:27, LXX]) This “word” or message instructed him to write “all the words that were on the first scroll” which “Jehoiakim the king of Judah” had burned. (36:28 [43:28, LXX]) Regarding “Jehoiakim the king of Judah,” Jeremiah was to relate what YHWH had revealed to him, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written in it, saying, The king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land and will cut off from it man and beast’ [domestic animal]?” Instead of being moved to repentance from learning about the severe judgment that would come through the agency of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, Jehoiakim responded with indignation. (36:29 [43:29, LXX]; see the Notes section.) “Therefore, thus says YHWH concerning Jehoiakim the king of Judah, He will have none to sit upon the throne of David and his corpse will be cast out to the heat by day and to the frost by night.” His unburied dead body would be left exposed to the elements. In his Antiquities (X, vi, 3), Josephus wrote that the king of Babylon commanded that Jehoiakim be “thrown before the walls [of Jerusalem], without any burial.” The brief three-month reign of his son Jehoiachin was hardly enough to consider him as having been successful in sitting upon the throne of David, or ruling as a member of the royal line of David. (36:30 [43:30, LXX])

YHWH’s judgment against Jehoiakim and the kingdom of Judah continued, “I will visit him [or attend to him with punishment] and his seed [or offspring] and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring upon them and upon the residents of Jerusalem and upon the men [or people] of Judah all the evil [or calamity] that I have spoken against them, and they did not hear [listen or give heed].” (36:31 [43:31, LXX])

“Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah, the scribe, and he [Baruch] wrote on it from the mouth of Jeremiah [or at Jeremiah’s dictation] all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim the king of Judah had burned in the fire, and there were added to them many words like those.” On this second scroll, Baruch wrote much more than what had been recorded on the scroll that King Jehoiakim had destroyed. (36:32 [43:32, LXX])


The Septuagint in verse 7 of chapter 43 expresses the introductory thought in a way that differs from the extant Hebrew text. “Perhaps their mercy [or their need for compassion] will fall [or come] before the face [or person] of the Lord.” This rendering apparently resulted from considering the Hebrew word for “supplication” (techinnáh) to mean “mercy” or “favor,” which it does in certain contexts. (Compare Joshua 11:20 and Ezra 9:8.)

In verse 9, the Masoretic Text apparently preserves the correct year (the “fifth year”) for the proclamation of a fast. The “eighth year” (according to the Septuagint) appears to be too long for Baruch to have waited for the proclamation of a fast so that he could act on Jeremiah’s directive to read the words of YHWH to the people on a fast day.

The Septuagint, in verse 18 of chapter 43, does not include the detail about the writing being done “with ink.”

Verse 26 of chapter 43 in the Septuagint does not mention “Shelemiah the son of Abdeel.” It also does not identify Baruch as a “scribe” and Jeremiah as a “prophet.”

The Septuagint, in verse 29 of chapter 43, does not include the introductory words “and regarding Jehoiakim the king of Judah.”

In verse 32 of chapter 43, the Seputagint does not refer to Jeremiah as taking and giving another scroll to Baruch. It says, “And Barouch took another scroll and wrote on it.”