Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Historical events connected with the collection of Jeremiah's prophecies into a volume, and with his personal history immediately before and after the siege of Jerusalem Jer. 36-44.
Jer. 36. Attached to the prophecies relating to Israel and Judah is an account of the circumstances under which very many of them, and also the prophecies concerning the Gentiles, were first formed into one volume. See the introduction of Jeremiah.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim - See Jer 25:1 note. The present chapter belongs to the very end of that year. The capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar took place early in Jehoiakim's fourth year, long before the writing of Jehoiakim's scroll. The humiliation seems to have sunk deeply into the heart of Jehoiakim, and when Jeremiah prophesied extended dominion to the Chaldaeans Jer 36:29, his anger knew no bounds. It was the fact that judgment had begun which made it expedient to gather Jeremiah's predictions into one volume, with the object:
(1) of inducing the people to repent, and
(2) of persuading the king to be a true subject of the Chaldaean empire.
A roll of a book - A parchment-scroll, consisting of several skins sewn together, and cut of an even breadth, with a piece of wood at one end (or, in case of larger volumes, at both ends) on which to roll them up.
Write therein all the words ... - The phrase means that the roll was to contain "all the counsel of God" Act 20:27 upon the special point mentioned in Jer 36:3; and that the prophet was not to keep anything back.
Compare Jer 26:3. In point of date Jer. 26: is immediately prior to the present.
Shut up - Hindered from going; perhaps through fear of Jehoiakim.
The fasting day - A fasting day. Baruch was to wait for a proper opportunity Jer 36:9.
They will present their supplication - i. e., humbly. See the margin. The phrase also contained the idea of the prayer being accepted.
Reading - To read.
The ninth month answers to our December, and the fast was probably in commemoration of the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans in the previous year.
Gemariah seems to have inherited his father's office of public scribe or secretary of state (see Kg2 22:3). As brother of Ahikam, he would be favorable to Jeremiah.
The higher court - The inner court; into which it was not lawful for the people to enter, but the chamber probably itself formed one of its sides, and could be approached from the outer court.
Probably as his father had lent Jeremiah the hall, Michaiah had been commanded to bring Gemariah Jer 36:12 tidings, as soon as the reading was over, of the nature of the prophet's words, and the effect produced by them upon the people.
The scribe's chamber - The chancery in which the king's business was conducted. Probably Elishama was one of the "principal scribes of the host" Jer 52:25, i. e., the secretary of state for war. The business which had brought together "all the princes" would have reference to the Chaldaean war.
Jehudi signifies a Jew and Cushi an Ethiopian, but it seems reasonable to conclude that they are genuine, proper names.
They were afraid both one and other - literally, "they trembled each to his neighbor," i. e., they showed their alarm by their looks and gestures one to another. They felt that what he had so consistently prophesied for a period of 23 years would in all probability be fulfilled.
We will surely tell - Rather, We must tell the king. It was their official duty.
The scroll might have been drawn up by Baruch from memoranda of his own without the prophet's direct authority. The princes therefore did not ask from curiosity, but to obtain necessary information.
He pronounced - He used to say aloud, he dictated. Baruch's office was merely mechanical. He contributed nothing but hand, pen, and ink.
The court - i. e., The inner quadrangle of the palace, in which was the royal residence.
They laid up the roll - They left the scroll in charge, i. e., in the care of someone.
The winterhouse - A separate portion of the palace was used for residence according to the season (marginal reference).
And there was a fire on the hearth ... - And the fire-pan burning before them. On the middle of the floor was a brazier containing burning charcoal.
Leaves - Columns: literally folding-doors; the word exactly describes the shape of the columns of writing upon the scroll.
Penknife - "Scribe's knife;" used to shape the reed for writing, and to make erasures in the parchment.
On the hearth - Or, in the fire-pan. The conduct of the king shows how violent was his temper.
It is remarkable to find Elnathan interceding for Jeremiah after the office he had discharged toward Urijah Jer 26:22.
Hammelech - Either a proper name or a prince of the blood royal (see the margin; Jer 38:6; Kg1 22:26).
The king of Babylon ... - These words do not prove that Nebuchadnezzar had not already come, and compelled Jehoiakim to become his vassal. The force lies in the last words, which predict such a coming as would make the land utterly desolate: and this would be the result of the king throwing off the Chaldaean yoke.
He shall have none to sit ... - The 3 months' reign of Jehoiakim was too destitute of real power to be a contradiction to this prediction.
Many like words - The second scroll was thus a more complete record of the main lessons taught by Jeremiah during the long course of his inspired ministry.