Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Jer. 26 is a narrative of the danger to which Jeremiah was exposed by reason of the prophecy contained in Jer. 7 and should be read in connection with it. Jer 26:4-6 contain a summary of the prediction contained in Jer. 7, and that again is but an outline of what was a long address.
The charge against Jeremiah was that of prophesying falsely, for which the penalty was death Deu 18:20. They assumed that it was absolutely impossible that Jerusalem ever could become like Shiloh.
Against Jeremiah - unto Jeremiah. They regularly constituted themselves a congregation to take part in his trial.
The princes of Judah - The priests could scourge a man etc., but could not then try him for his life, as the Sanhedrim subsequently did until the Romans deprived them of the power.
The new gate - That built by Jotham Kg2 15:35, and probably a usual place for trials.
This man is worthy to die - literally, A sentence of death is to this man, i. e., is his desert.
The answer of Jeremiah is simple and straightforward. Yahweh, he affirmed, had truly sent him, but the sole object of his prophesying had been to avert the evil by leading them to repentance. If they would amend their ways God would deliver them from the threatened doom. As for himself he was in their hands, but if they put him to death they would bring the guilt of shedding innocent blood upon themselves and upon the city.
This man ... - literally, There is not to this man a sentence of death, i. e., he is acquitted by the princes and the congregation.
The elders of the land - The heads and spokesmen of the congregation, who added their approval after the princes who represented the king had given their decision.
Thus might we procure ... - Rather, And we should commit a great evil against our own souls; i. e., by putting Jeremiah to death, we should commit a sin which would prove a great misfortune to ourselves.
This narrative of Urijah's fate was no part of the speech of the elders, who would not be likely to contrast the behavior of the reigning king so unfavorably with that of Hezekiah. Moreover, it would have been a precedent, not for acquitting Jeremiah, but for putting him to death. Jeremiah, when he reduced the narrative to writing, probably added this history to show the ferocity of Jehoiakim, and the danger to which he had been himself exposed.
His mighty men - The commanders of his army; the princes are the civil officers.
Elnathan - Possibly the king's father-in-law Kg2 24:8.
Out of Egypt - As Jehoiakim was a vassal of Egypt, he would easily obtain the surrender of a man accused of treason.
Ahikam - See the marginal reference. His son Gemariah lent Jeremiah his room for the public reading of Jehoiakim's scroll, and another son Gedaliah was made governor of the land by the Chaldaeans Jer 39:14; the family probably shared the political views of Jeremiah.