Jeremiah will not forget this time. He had his hopes that the king would respectfully consider God’s Words. Instead, the words were read, but the book was destroyed bit by bit in the process.
Sometime between Nov. 24 and Dec. 23, in 604 B.C., Jeremiah’s book of Prophecy was read to the King. As each column was read, they used a sharp penknife to slice it out and then burned it in the fire.
Understanding the time of year, helps understand the setting. Being November, the weather is chilly, often even during the day. As the king and the officers were gathered around a big fire in a "Winter Palace" (one that faces South and can get the full benefit of the Sun), they spent the ordinarily quiet day hearing the Words of God read. They were not reading them to gain valuable information, but in a scornful way.
The wicked king was Jehoiakim, the son of Joash. Joash sought to learn God’s Word and follow it. Joash feared God and repented when he heard the judgments of God against Israel.
Jehoiakim was installed as king of Israel by the Pharoah of Egypt. His name was changed by the Pharaoh from Eliakim (God established) to Jehoiakim (Jah will raise up).
Jehoiakim rejected the ways of his father and showed nothing but disdain for the things of God. He was one of the last kings in the history of Judah (II Kings 24:5). In order to pay exorbitant Egyptian dues, he levied huge land taxes (II Kings 23:35). He built expensive royal buildings using the citizens as slave laborers (Jeremiah 22:13-17). He is noted with killing many innocent people (II Kings 24:4). Against God’s advice, he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and was captured, and carried away prisoner. It was at this time that Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishal, and Azariah were carried captive with Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was went back to Judah to serve as king under Babylon. After 3 years of service to Babylon, Jehoiakim rebelled and decided to become independent. Nebuchadnezzar had no choice but to lay seize against Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died in the process. He was 36 and died on December 6, 598 B.C., after an 11 year reign of terror.
Example of the Fire stand where Jeremiah’s Scroll was burned a little section at a time. Instead it sweet incense coming from the flames, the stench of leather would have come, making the reading even more deplorable, and causing antics from the listeners.
Jeremiah 36:21-26 So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king.
22. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him.
23. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
24. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.
25. Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.
26. But the king commanded Jerahmeel the son of Hammelech, and Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to take Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet: but the LORD hid them.
Photo courtesy of the British Museum. The Biblical World in Pictures; BAS Biblical World in Pictures. Biblical Archaeology Society, 2002;2002.
Easton, M. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897.
Walvoord, J. F., R. B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985. Je 36:20.
Wood, D. R. W., & I. H. Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. /. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Pages 546-547.