Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Against the False Prophet Hananiah. - Jer 28:1-4. This man's prophecy. At the same time, namely in the fourth year of Zedekiah (cf. rem. on Jer 27:1. The Chet. בּשׁנת is supported by Jer 46:2 and Jer 51:59; the Keri בּשּׁנה is an unnecessary alteration), in the fifth month, spake Hananiah the son of Azur, - a prophet not otherwise known, belonging to Gibeon, a city of the priests (Jos 21:17; now Jib, a large village two hours north-west of Jerusalem; see on Jos 9:3), possibly therefore himself a priest - in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and people assembled there, saying: Jer 28:2. "Thus hath Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, said: I break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Jer 28:3. Within two years I bring again into this place the vessels of the house of Jahveh, which Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon took away from this place and carried them to Babylon. Jer 28:4. And Jechoniah, the son of Jehoiakim the king of Judah, and all the captives of Judah that went into Babylon, bring I again to this place, saith Jahveh; for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon." - The false prophet endeavours to stamp on his prediction the impress of a true, God-inspired prophecy, by copying the title of God, so often used by Jeremiah, "Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel," and by giving the utmost definiteness to his promise: "within two years" (in contrast to Jeremiah's seventy years). "Two years" is made as definite as possible by the addition of ימים: two years in days, i.e., in two full years.See on Gen 41:1; Sa2 13:23.
Jeremiah's reply. - First Jeremiah admits that the fulfilment of this prediction would be desirable (Jer 28:6), but then reminds his opponent that all the prophets of the Lord up till this time have prophesied of war and calamity (Jer 28:7 and Jer 28:8). So that if a prophet, in opposition to these witnesses of God, predicts nothing but peace and safety, then nothing short of the fulfilment of his prediction can make good his claim to be a true prophet (Jer 28:9). - Jeremiah's answer is to this effect: Jer 28:6. "Amen (i.e., yea), may Jahveh so do! may Jahveh perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of Jahveh's house and all the captives from Babylon into this place. Jer 28:7. Only hear now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people. Jer 28:8. The prophets that were before me and before thee from of old, they prophesied concerning many lands and great kingdoms, of war, and of trouble, and of pestilence. Jer 28:9. The prophet that prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet cometh to pass, shall be known as the prophet that Jahveh hath truly sent. - As to אמן, yea, see on Jer 11:5. The scope of this assent is straightway defined in "may Jahveh so do." But in order that the hearers may not misunderstand his assent, Jeremiah proceeds to show that hitherto only threatening predictions have carried with them the presumption of their being true prophecies, inasmuch as it is these alone that have been in harmony with the predictions of all previous prophets. ויּנּבאוּ (Jer 28:8) is explained by the fact that "the prophets" with the accompany relative clause is made to precede absolute-wise. In the same absolute manner the clause "the prophet...peace" is disposed so that after the verb יוּדע the word הנּביא is repeated. For לרעה many MSS have לרעב; manifestly an adaptation to passages like Jer 14:12; Jer 21:9; Jer 24:10; Jer 27:8, Jer 27:13; Jer 29:17., where sword, famine, and pestilence are mentioned together as three modes of visitation by God; whereas only the general word רעה seems in place here, when mentioned alongside of "war." For this very reason Hitz. rejects רעב as being the least difficult reading, while Ew. takes it under his protection on account of the parallel passages, not considering that the train of thought is different there. - The truth expressed in Jer 28:9 is based on the Mosaic law concerning prophecy, Deu 18:21., where the fulfilment of the prediction is given as the test of true, God-inspired prophecy.
Had Hananiah been sent by the Lord, he might have been satisfied with Jeremiah's opinion, and have contentedly awaited the issue. But instead of this, he seeks by means of violence to secure credence for his prophesying. He takes the yoke from off the neck of the prophet, and breaks it in pieces, as he repeats before the people his former prediction: "Thus hath Jahveh said: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within two years." - Thereupon Jeremiah went his way without answering a word, calmly entrusting to the Lord the vindication of the truth of His own word.
The Lord's testimony against Hananiah. - Apparently not long after Jeremiah had departed, he received from the Lord the commission to go to Hananiah and to say to him: Jer 28:13. "Thus saith Jahveh: Yokes of wood hast thou broken, but hast made in place of them yokes of iron. Jer 28:14. For thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I lay upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; and the beasts of the field also have I given him." - When the prophet says: Yokes of wood hast thou broken, etc., we are not to understand him as speaking of the breaking of the wooden yoke Jeremiah had been wearing; he gives the deeper meaning of that occurrence. By breaking Jeremiah's wooden yoke, Hananiah has only signified that the yoke Nebuchadnezzar lays on the nations will not be so easily broken as a wooden one, but is of iron, i.e., not to be broken. The plural "yokes" is to be explained by the emblematical import of the words, and is not here to be identified, as it sometimes may be, with the singular, Jer 28:10. Jer 28:14 shows in what sense Hananiah put an iron yoke in the place of the wooden one: Jahveh will lay iron yokes on all nations, that they may serve the king of Babel. Hananiah's breaking the wooden yoke does not alter the divine decree, but is made to contribute to its fuller revelation. With the last clause of Jer 28:14, cf. Jer 27:6. - Hereupon Jeremiah forewarns the false prophets what is to be God's punishment on them for their false and audacious declarations. Jer 28:15. "Hear now, Hananiah: Jahveh hath not sent thee, and thou hast made this people to believe a lie. Jer 28:16. Therefore thus saith Jahveh: Behold, I cast thee from off the face of the earth; this year shalt thou die, for thou hast spoken rebellion against Jahveh." "The year" = this year, as in Isa 37:30. The words "for thou hast spoken," etc., recall Deu 13:6. They involve an application to Hananiah's case of the command there given to put such a prophet to death, and show how it can with justice be said that the Lord will cast him from off the face of the earth. The verb משׁלּחך is chosen for the sake of the play on לא שׁלחך. God has not sent him as prophet to His people, but will send him away from off the earth, i.e., cause him to die. - In Jer 28:17 it is recorded that this saying was soon fulfilled. Hananiah died in the seventh month of that year, i.e., two months after his controversy with Jeremiah (cf. Jer 28:1).