Jeremiah as you have never seen him before (Prt 2)
How Jesus Christ viewed the book of Jeremiah (Part 2, Chapters 27 thru 52).
[Note: I have also added further information to the end of my Sep 99 article.]
This is a continuation of my Nov 99 article that views the book of Jeremiah in essentially the same manner as Jesus did. The book of Jeremiah clearly contains the writings or preaching of Jeremiah himself during the first half of his ministry, the writings of his scribe Baruch about Jeremiah (and at times dictated by Jeremiah) during the later half of his ministry, and some chapters at the end that were evidently written long after Jeremiah's death. Since the writings by and about Jeremiah are put together with seemingly little regard for chronological order, it appears that like the Book of Isaiah, this book was compiled rather hastily. Numerous biblical scholars have suggested various ways in which the writings in the book of Jeremiah can be re-arranged to make more sense from a chronological standpoint. Indeed, there are significant differences in the way the chapters of the book of Jeremiah are arranged in various well-known translations of the Old Testament. For the purposes of my review of this book, I have decided to simply go with the order and translation found in the New King James (NKJ) version of the Bible. All of the scriptural quotes in this article, by the way, are from the New King James Version of the Bible.
Jeremiah ("Jehovah lifts up") was a Levite, the son of Hilkiah. Judging from the fact that he was raised in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, it appears that he was a descendant of the Abiathar line of priests who were deposed by King Solomon (1 Kings 2:26-35). Thus, he was not the son of the High Priest Hilkiah who discovered the "lost scroll' (the book of Deuteronomy) during the renovation of Solomon's Temple. This may have made it easier for him to severely criticize the actions and teachings of the Levite priests in Jerusalem (because they were not part of his immediate family). Jeremiah's contemporaries included the Old Testament authors Hosea, Joel, Amos, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, and Daniel. But it is unclear whether or not he viewed them as being among the apostate priests and false prophets whom he so frequently chastised.
An important thing to notice about Jeremiah's preaching is that whenever he specifically describes the offenses that were being committed by his fellow Israelites, those offenses are not only violations of the Ten Commandments, they all violations of either the first or the second of God's two most fundamental commandments (as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40). As was typical of the Levite thinking in those days, Jeremiah attributes acts of evil to God as well as acts of goodness and mercy (i.e., Satan hadn't been thrown out of his perception of heaven yet). The promoters of idol worship in the Gentile nations in those days taught pretty much the same way of thinking, but they attributed such powers to their beloved idols rather than to God. So in this respect, the teachings of the Levites in those days were only one step removed from the teachings of their Gentile religious counterparts. But it was a significant step, and Jeremiah's criticisms based on God's two most fundamental commandments helped lead to the next step which was taken by the third Isaiah (and Jesus)--to completely disassociate God from evil (i.e. to "cast Satan out of Heaven"--to remove evil from mankind's perception of God.). Unfortunately for a large percentage of mankind today, many of America's most popular religious leaders (Jack Van Impe, etc.) have yet to take that second step themselves.
As in our earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets], and I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the second-heaven level of interpretation (i.e. pretty much "literal" but in conformance with God's two most fundamental commandments) and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the third-heaven level of interpretation (i.e. allegorical and in conformance with God's two most fundamental commandments).
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the current relevance of Jeremiah's teachings, the way I am viewing Jeremiah's teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed those teachings (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). This way of viewing Jeremiah may be a new experience for you. I highly recommend you read my Nov 99 article before proceeding with this one.
So let's get on with...
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, "Thus says the LORD to me: 'Make for yourselves bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck, and send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. And command them to say to their masters, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel-- thus you shall say to your masters: 'I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me. And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son's son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,' says the LORD, 'with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying, "You shall not serve the king of Babylon." For they prophesy a lie to you, to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out, and you will perish. But the nations that bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let them remain in their own land,' says the LORD, 'and they shall till it and dwell in it.'"'"
[2-hvn. So it is clear that unlike the thinking and teachings of most of his contemporaries, Jeremiah's God-inspired guidance revealed that the popular concept of "Judean national sovereignty" was more of a liability than an asset; it was definitely NOT in conformance with God's Will. Indeed, it was the Judean's obsession with "Judean national sovereignty" that ultimately led to the slaughter or deportation of most of the Judean people.]
I also spoke to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, "Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the LORD has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you, saying, 'You shall not serve the king of Babylon,' for they prophesy a lie to you; for I have not sent them," says the LORD, "yet they prophesy a lie in My name, that I may drive you out, and that you may perish, you and the prophets who prophesy to you."
[2-hvn. It took a lot of "guts" for Jeremiah to say such things face-to-face with his king.]
Also I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, "Behold, the vessels of the LORD'S house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon"; for they prophesy a lie to you. Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon, and live! Why should this city be laid waste? But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, do not go to Babylon.' For thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, concerning the Sea, concerning the carts, and concerning the remainder of the vessels that remain in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take, when he carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem--yes, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem: 'They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be until the day that I visit them,' says the LORD. 'Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.'"
[2-hvn. It's also clear that Jeremiah wasn't afraid to stand up to his fellow Judean religious leaders and accuse them of lying. Those who claim to represent God while advocating violations of God's two most fundamental commandments DESERVE to be called liars, and SHOULD be called liars, not just because they are using God's name IN VAIN while doing so, but because the consequences are often VERY BLOODY for those who are foolish enough to believe such lies.]
And it happened in the same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: 'I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD'S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah who went to Babylon,' says the LORD, 'for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.'"
[2-hvn. Here we have a classic example of the Biblically recorded fact that not all those who claim "Thus speaks the LORD" do in fact represent the LORD. It was a fairly common practice in those days to claim "Thus says the LORD..., etc."--even when uttering whopping big lies. Many of America's so-called "Christian fundamentalists" who claim to be interpreting the Bible "literally" assume that if a character in the Bible claims to represent the LORD, then he does indeed represent the LORD. The book of Jeremiah pretty well trashes that assumption.]
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the house of the LORD, and the prophet Jeremiah said, "Amen! The LORD do so; the LORD perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the LORD'S house and all who were carried away captive, from Babylon to this place. Nevertheless hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms--of war and disaster and pestilence. As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent."
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah pointed out that the truthfulness of their prophecies would be revealed by their "fruits." He was publicly staking his words and reputation against theirs. As it turned out, it was Jeremiah's prophecies that came true, in spite of his courageous efforts to alter the course of Judean history in order to avert the impending disaster which he could see coming.]
Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah's neck and broke it. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.'" And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
[2-hvn. Jeremiah was using the yoke as sort of a "visual aid" to support his points. Like the first Isaiah, Jeremiah really knew how to make an impression, even if that impression was not well received.]
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made in their place yokes of iron." For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also."'" Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, "Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the LORD.'" So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
[2-hvn. Although Jeremiah's prophecy regarding Hananiah's demise apparently came true, it was not really a godly thing to make such a prophecy. Notice that beginning with this chapter, Jeremiah is consistently referred to in the third person, most of the next 18 chapters in the book of Jeremiah appear to have been written by Jeremiah's scribe Baruch, perhaps several years after these events occurred.]
Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive--to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters--that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace."
[2-hvn. So Jeremiah advised the Judean captives in Babylon to conduct themselves in a neighborly manner and to make the best of their current situation.]
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD. For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the LORD, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you," says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive."
[2-hvn. That apparent accuracy of this seventy-year prediction helped considerably to secure Jeremiah's place as a respected prophet in the Hebrew scriptures--in spite of his frequent criticism of his religious contemporaries. Some have argued that this prediction was a result of divine revelation, and others have argued that this prediction was added long after that seventy-year period had transpired. However, it is also possible that Jeremiah may have simply recognized that empire-building kingdoms in those days tended to last only about two or three generations.]
Because you have said, "The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon"--therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, concerning all the people who dwell in this city, and concerning your brethren who have not gone out with you into captivity--thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth--to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not heeded My words," says the LORD, "which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah indicates to the captives in Babylon that he didn't think very highly of those who remained in Judea after the first Babylonian deportation.]
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in My name: "Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, 'The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire'"; because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah accurately predicted a second major deportation to Babylon. Although Jeremiah specifically attributes that outcome to the Judeans' penchant for believing lies and their adultery with their neighbors' wives, it was in fact their love for "Judean national sovereignty" (rather than God) that ultimately led to the second deportation and the leveling of Jerusalem and King Solomon's Temple.]
You shall also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: "You have sent letters in your name to all the people who are at Jerusalem, to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying, 'The LORD has made you priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, so that there should be officers in the house of the LORD over every man who is demented and considers himself a prophet, that you should put him in prison and in the stocks. Now therefore, why have you not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you? For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, "This captivity is long; build houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit."'"
[2-hvn. Here Shemaiah the Nehelamite advocated that Jeremiah be put in prison for telling the captives in Babylon to build houses, plant gardens, and eat their fruit. Now THAT is an example of warped, satanically inspired reasoning!]
Now Zephaniah the priest read this letter in the hearing of Jeremiah the prophet. Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: "Send to all those in captivity, saying, Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, and I have not sent him, and he has caused you to trust in a lie, therefore thus says the LORD: Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his family: he shall not have anyone to dwell among this people, nor shall he see the good that I will do for My people, says the LORD, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD."
[2-hvn. Apparently, Shemaiah's blatant disregard for following God's two most fundamental commandments eventually cost him his life and the lives of his family.]
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, "Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying: 'Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,' says the LORD. 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.'"
Now these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah. "For thus says the LORD: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says the LORD, 'Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.'"
[3-hvn. Here Jeremiah predicts that the Judeans and Israelites will eventually have a new king or "Messiah" from the lineage of David. This had a tremendous impact on the thinking and expectations of the Judeans in the first century AD.]
For thus says the LORD: "Your affliction is incurable, your wound is severe. There is no one to plead your cause, that you may be bound up; you have no healing medicines. All your lovers have forgotten you; they do not seek you; for I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased. Why do you cry about your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable. Because of the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you. Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey. For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,' says the LORD, 'Because they called you an outcast saying: "This is Zion; no one seeks her."'"
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah portrays God as being hypocritical, claiming that the Judeans' adversaries were doing evil things according to the will of God and then promising to punish them for doing evil things according to the will of God. The pagan gods in those days were likewise portrayed quite often as being hypocritical (as illustrated in the TV series "The Adventures of Hercules"). This practice no doubt degraded Jeremiah's credibility among his contemporaries just as it eventually degraded the credibility of the Greek and Roman gods.]
Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; the city shall be built upon its own mound, and the palace shall remain according to its own plan. Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as before, and their congregation shall be established before Me; and I will punish all who oppress them. Their nobles shall be from among them, and their governor shall come from their midst; then I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach Me; for who is this who pledged his heart to approach Me?" says the LORD. "You shall be My people, and I will be your God." Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goes forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind; it will fall violently on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will consider it.
[2-hvn. Notice that although Jeremiah goes a long way toward recognizing the primacy of God's two most fundamental commandments, he still regressed occasionally to the Levite tradition of attributing evil acts to the "will of God."]
"At the same time," says the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people." Thus says the LORD: "The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness--Israel, when I went to give him rest." The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice. You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food. For there shall be a day when the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.' " For thus says the LORD: "Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, 'O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!' Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn."
[2-hvn. Here, now that the damage has been done, Jeremiah changes tune and begins making prophecies designed to console the Judean captives in Babylon and to provide them with reasons to hope for (and expect) better times for their future generations.]
"Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.' For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the LORD--for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD."
[2-hvn. More reassurances.]
Thus says the LORD: "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more."
[2-hvn. Centuries later, the author of Matthew portrayed the above prophecy from Jeremiah as being fulfilled when King Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children below the age of 3 in Bethlehem.
"Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." Matt 2:17-18 ]
Thus says the LORD: "Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD, that your children shall come back to their own border. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself: 'You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained bull; restore me, and I will return, for You are the LORD my God. Surely, after my turning, I repented; and after I was instructed, I struck myself on the thigh; I was ashamed, yes, even humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.' Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him," says the LORD.
"Set up signposts, make landmarks; set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back, O virgin of Israel, turn back to these your cities. How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth--a woman shall encompass a man."
[3-hvn. Here Jeremiah (or possibly the editors who compiled the book of Jeremiah) allegorically predict that something new will happen in the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths in the end times. The church will become one with the Kingdom of God, and it will encompass ALL of mankind. Clearly, neither of those things has happened yet, so in the meantime there has been much suffering for thousands of years now.]
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "They shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I bring back their captivity: 'The LORD bless you, O home of justice, and mountain of holiness!' And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all its cities together, farmers and those going out with flocks. For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul."
[2-hvn. These are "fruits" of the Kingdom of God.]
After this I awoke and looked around, and my sleep was sweet to me. "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD," that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to throw down, to destroy, and to afflict, so I will watch over them to build and to plant," says the LORD. "In those days they shall say no more: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them," says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
[3-hvn. That "new covenant" is to seek to follow God's two most fundamental commandments, without restrictions. It's as simple as that! As long as they are not misled, ANYBODY can understand it even without having to be taught. Those who follow those two commandments will "Know the LORD."]
Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): "If those ordinances depart from before Me," says the LORD, "then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever." Thus says the LORD: "If heaven above can be measured [restricted], and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done," says the LORD.
[3-hvn. Notice that the author of this portion of Jeremiah (who may have been one of those mentioned in Ezra 10:15) explains that the "sun", "moon", and "stars" allegorically represent ordinances. The "sun" represents truth with restrictions imposed on its applicability, the "moon" represents neighborly love with restrictions imposed the definition of neighbor, and the "stars" represent specific lessons or examples of the two principles working together. The disturbed "sea" represents humanity in turmoil, misguided by their own "earthly" perceptions of "truth" (based on criteria OTHER than God's two most fundamental commandments). Contrast this with how it will be after the second coming of Christ:
Rev 21:1 "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea."
Rev 21:23 "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light."
So what does this mean? It means that after the second coming of Christ, all those ungodly restrictions on God's two most fundamental commandments will be GONE! At long last, people will follow those two commandments WITHOUT placing any restrictions on either one. There is no need to wait for some worldwide "supernatural" event to occur before beginning this in your own heart and mind. For yourself, you can make it happen NOW!]
"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that the city shall be built for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. The surveyor's line shall again extend straightforward over the hill Gareb; then it shall turn toward Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or thrown down anymore forever."
[2-hvn. If this is interpreted literally to refer to ancient Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile, then it turns out to be a false prophecy, because Jerusalem was indeed "plucked up" in 70 AD. If it is interpreted allegorically as the "New Jerusalem" in Revelation 21, then it hasn't really happened yet.]
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, "Why do you prophesy and say, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him," says the LORD; "though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed" '?"
[2-hvn. Jeremiah was a "traitor" in the eyes of those who worshipped Judean "national sovereignty", so he was he was put in jail, even though he was actually trying to avert the impending destruction of Jerusalem and its inhabitants.]
And Jeremiah said, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, "Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it."' Then Hanamel my uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said to me, 'Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money--seventeen shekels of silver. And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money in the balances. So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison. Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days."
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah used the purchase of a piece of land and the act of hiding the deed in an earthen vessel (presumably to be buried somewhere on that property) as a symbolic visual aid to help emphasize his point that though temporarily dispersed, the Judeans would eventually return to live in Judea and possess its lands.]
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land."' Now when I had delivered the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying: 'Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them--the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts. You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings. You have set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, to this day, and in Israel and among other men; and You have made Yourself a name, as it is this day. You have brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror; You have given them this land, of which You swore to their fathers to give them--"a land flowing with milk and honey." And they came in and took possession of it, but they have not obeyed Your voice or walked in Your law. They have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have caused all this calamity to come upon them. Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! And You have said to me, O Lord GOD, "Buy the field for money, and take witnesses"!--yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.'"
[2-hvn. Again, Jeremiah emphasizes his theme that the Judeans have brought destruction upon themselves by refusing to follow God's guidance.]
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?"
[3-hvn. Notice that the term "God of all flesh" implies NO restrictions on one's definition of neighbor.]
"Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it. And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger; because the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth. For the children of Israel have provoked Me only to anger with the work of their hands," says the LORD. For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day; so I will remove it from before My face because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger--they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.' Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, 'It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.' For thus says the LORD: 'Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them. And fields will be bought in this land of which you say, "It is desolate, without man or beast; it has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans." Men will buy fields for money, sign deeds and seal them, and take witnesses, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the South; for I will cause their captives to return,' says the LORD."
[2-hvn. In spite of his dire predictions regarding Jerusalem's fate in the near future, Jeremiah repeatedly emphasized that later on their descendants would return to Judea and to the Lord. So Jeremiah provided his people with the hope and expectation that things would eventually get better for their descendants. In a way, he also helped make the return of the Judeans to Judea a self-fulfilling prophecy.]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the prison, saying, "Thus says the LORD who made it, the LORD who formed it to establish it (the LORD is His name): 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah, which have been pulled down to fortify against the siege mounds and the sword: 'They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but only to fill their places with the dead bodies of men whom I will slay in My anger and My fury, all for whose wickedness I have hidden My face from this city. Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.'"
[2-hvn. In other words, "things will get worse before they get better." The Judean's attempts to defend Jerusalem would not only fail, they would get a lot of Judeans killed, and because of their sins, God would not come to their rescue.]
"Thus says the LORD: 'Again there shall be heard in this place--of which you say, "It is desolate, without man and without beast"-- in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: "Praise the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for His mercy endures forever"--and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,' says the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'In this place which is desolate, without man and without beast, and in all its cities, there shall again be a dwelling place of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the lowland, in the cities of the South, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, the flocks shall again pass under the hands of him who counts them,' says the LORD. 'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.' For thus says the LORD: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.'"
[3-hvn. The prophesy "I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness" which he reiterates here is one of those that led the Judeans in Jesus' day to look for the coming of a "Messiah" who would be a descendant of King David. Unfortunately for the Judeans, especially those in Jerusalem, their religious leaders misled them to expect a political Messiah rather than a spiritual Messiah ("a Branch of righteousness").]
And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'" Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, "Have you not considered what these people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the LORD has chosen, He has also cast them off'? Thus they have despised My people, as if they should no more be a nation before them. Thus says the LORD: 'If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.'"
[3-hvn. In other words, the likelihood that the Lord would break his promises to the Judeans about returning to Judea is about as miniscule as the likelihood that He would bring and end to day and night. Notice that Jeremiah, being a Levite, portrays the tribes of Judah (David) and the Levites as being the key role models for the descendants of Abraham. These are essentially the roles of church (Abel/Seth/Levi) and state (Cain/Judah/David).]
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms of the earth under his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem and all its cities, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. And you shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.'"' Yet hear the word of the LORD, O Zedekiah king of Judah! Thus says the LORD concerning you: 'You shall not die by the sword. You shall die in peace; as in the ceremonies of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they shall burn incense for you and lament for you, saying, "Alas, lord!" For I have pronounced the word, says the LORD.' "
[2-hvn. Actually, after the Babylonian-appointed King Zedekiah of Judean led a revolt against Babylon, Zedekiah was captured by Nebuchadnezzar who forced Zedekiah to watch while his sons were slaughtered before him. Then Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah's eyes put out and took him back to Babylon where he died in captivity. So Jeremiah's prophecy that Zedekiah "would die in peace" was somewhat misleading, although it was true that he didn't die by the sword.]
Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem, when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah. This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them: that every man should set free his male and female slave--a Hebrew man or woman--that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage. Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let them go. But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves.
[2-hvn. Evidently, Zedekiah figured he could gain some popular support among the common people of Judea (and in the eyes of God) by freeing all Judean slaves. But after a while, the Judean slave owners decided to ignore Zedekiah's decree. This clearly infuriated Jeremiah (and God); it was a blatant violation of God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves. It also shows the King Zedekiah's control over his people was quite limited.]
Therefore the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, "At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you." But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear. Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight--every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom he had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.' Therefore thus says the LORD: 'You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,' says the LORD--'to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth. And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it--the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf--I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth. And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon's army which has gone back from you. Behold, I will command,' says the LORD, 'and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.'"
[2-hvn. The tradition of cutting a sacrificial calf in two and having people walk between the two halves was designed to help people who were making an oath to remember the seriousness of that oath. Supposedly, the punishment for breaking such an oath was death. According to Jeremiah, God was accusing the Judeans of breaking such an oath.]
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, "Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink." Then I took Jaazaniah the son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, his brothers and all his sons, and the whole house of the Rechabites, and I brought them into the house of the LORD, into the chamber of the sons of Hanan the son of Igdaliah, a man of God, which was by the chamber of the princes, above the chamber of Maaseiah the son of Shallum, the keeper of the door. Then I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, "Drink wine." But they said, "We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, 'You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, sow seed, plant a vineyard, nor have any of these; but all your days you shall dwell in tents, that you may live many days in the land where you are sojourners.' Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to dwell in; nor do we have vineyard, field, or seed. But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, 'Come, let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and for fear of the army of the Syrians.' So we dwell at Jerusalem."
[ 2-hvn. This chapter is chronologically out of place. It was apparently written by Jeremiah prior to the first Babylonian deportation (as he refers to himself in the first person). Here Jeremiah is citing an example of true faithfulness.]
Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Go and tell the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "Will you not receive instruction to obey My words?" says the LORD. "The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father's commandment. But although I have spoken to you, rising early and speaking, you did not obey Me. I have also sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, 'Turn now everyone from his evil way, amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them; then you will dwell in the land which I have given you and your fathers.' But you have not inclined your ear, nor obeyed Me. Surely the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father, which he commanded them, but this people has not obeyed Me."' Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken to them but they have not heard, and I have called to them but they have not answered.'"
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah contrasts the faithfulness of the Rechabites to the misconduct of the Judeans in general.]
And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever."'"
[2-hvn. God rewards those who are faithful to Him and His guidance.]
Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: "Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin."
[2-hvn. This story, which is also chronologically out of sequence with the earlier chapters regarding Zedekiah, is one of the two best known stories regarding the ministry of Jeremiah. Jeremiah wasn't afraid to risk his life in his efforts to save the Judeans from the impending disaster that they were bringing upon themselves. Apparently, at that point, Jeremiah thought that if he simply published the truth, his fellow Judeans would repent, and the impending disaster would be averted.]
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, "I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD. You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the LORD'S house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities. It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people." And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD'S house. Now it came to pass in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that they proclaimed a fast before the LORD to all the people in Jerusalem, and to all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem. Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD, in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD'S house, in the hearing of all the people.
[2-hvn. So Baruch not only read Jeremiah's prophecies to those in the Temple, he read them to people from all over Judea who came to Jerusalem to participate in a religious event.]
When Michaiah the son of Gemariah, the son of Shaphan, heard all the words of the LORD from the book, he then went down to the king's house, into the scribe's chamber; and there all the princes were sitting--Elishama the scribe, Delaiah the son of Shemaiah, Elnathan the son of Achbor, Gemariah the son of Shaphan, Zedekiah the son of Hananiah, and all the princes. Then Michaiah declared to them all the words that he had heard when Baruch read the book in the hearing of the people. Therefore all the princes sent Jehudi the son of Nethaniah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Cushi, to Baruch, saying, "Take in your hand the scroll from which you have read in the hearing of the people, and come." So Baruch the son of Neriah took the scroll in his hand and came to them. And they said to him, "Sit down now, and read it in our hearing." So Baruch read it in their hearing. Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, "We will surely tell the king of all these words." And they asked Baruch, saying, "Tell us now, how did you write all these words--at his instruction?" So Baruch answered them, "He proclaimed with his mouth all these words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the book." Then the princes said to Baruch, "Go and hide, you and Jeremiah; and let no one know where you are."
[2-hvn. It's interesting to see that these princes were sincerely interested in hearing what Jeremiah had written, and that they were concerned for the safety of Jeremiah and Baruch when they learned what Jeremiah was predicting. They clearly understood that Jeremiah's prophecies had significant political ramifications and were bound to upset King Jehoiakim. At least some of these princes where probably among those who were taken to Babylon during the first deportation. As we saw earlier, Jeremiah considered them to be of "higher caliber" than those who were left behind.]
And they went to the king, into the court; but they stored the scroll in the chamber of Elishama the scribe, and told all the words in the hearing of the king. So the king sent Jehudi to bring the scroll, and he took it from Elishama the scribe's chamber. And Jehudi read it in the hearing of the king and in the hearing of all the princes who stood beside the king. Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.
[2-hvn. Jehoiakim's efforts to censor Jeremiah's prophecies failed completely. More likely than not, nearly all of what was written on the scroll that Jehoiakim burned was subsequently rewritten and incorporated in the book of Jeremiah.]
Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: "Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. And you shall say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, 'Thus says the LORD: "You have burned this scroll, saying, 'Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and cause man and beast to cease from here? Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah: "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed."'" Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.
[2-hvn. Actually, Jehoiakim initially cut a deal with Babylonians, but three years later he instigated a rebellion against the Babylonian rule (for the sake of Judean "national sovereignty"), and that led to the first Babylonian sacking of Jerusalem and the first deportation of Judeans to Babylon. All that is known of for sure about Jehoiakim's fate after that is that he "died in captivity" (II Chronicles 36:6). Of course, it's possible that the Babylonians dumped his body beside a road or in the wilderness without bothering to bury it, as Jeremiah predicted.]
Then King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the LORD which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah. And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "Pray now to the LORD our God for us." Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison. Then Pharaoh's army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem. Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire."' Thus says the LORD: 'Do not deceive yourselves, saying, "The Chaldeans will surely depart from us," for they will not depart. For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.'"
[2-hvn. In a way, this is a retelling of the story in Chapter 21.]
And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh's army,
that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "You are defecting to the Chaldeans!" Then Jeremiah said, "False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans." But he did not listen to him. So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison. When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, "Is there any word from the LORD?" And Jeremiah said, "There is." Then he said, "You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!"
[2-hvn. As they say, don't ask the question if you can't stand the answer...]
Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, "What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, 'The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land'? Therefore please hear now, O my lord the king. Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there." Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers' street, until all the bread in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
[2-hvn. So Zedekiah wasn't all bad. His predecessor tried to kill Jeremiah. Keep in mind though, that this siege was the result of King Zedekiah's decision to rebel against Babylonian rule.]
Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.' Thus says the LORD: 'This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.'"
[2-hvn. Although the things that Jeremiah was saying were essentially true, it's not hard to understand how his contemporaries who were worshipping Judean "national sovereignty" would view his prophesies as being "treasonous."]
Therefore the princes said to the king, "Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm." Then Zedekiah the king said, "Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you." So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king's son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire. Now Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs, who was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon. When the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin, Ebed-Melech went out of the king's house and spoke to the king, saying: "My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is. For there is no more bread in the city." Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, "Take from here thirty men with you, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies." So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from their old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, "Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes." And Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
[2-hvn. This is the other of the two best-known stories regarding Jeremiah's ministry. Although King Zedekiah didn't like what Jeremiah was telling him, he apparently recognized that Jeremiah was telling him the truth and that he was indeed a true prophet of God.]
Then Zedekiah the king sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance of the house of the LORD. And the king said to Jeremiah, "I will ask you something. Hide nothing from me." Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me." So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, "As the LORD lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life." Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: 'If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon's princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon's princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.'" And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, "I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me." But Jeremiah said, "They shall not deliver you. Please, obey the voice of the LORD which I speak to you. So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live. But if you refuse to surrender, this is the word that the LORD has shown me: 'Now behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah's house shall be surrendered to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say: "Your close friends have set upon you and prevailed against you; your feet have sunk in the mire, and they have turned away again." So they shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans. You shall not escape from their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire.'"
[2-hvn. Jeremiah stated his case quite clearly here, especially the point that it was King Zedekiah's own conduct that would "cause this city to be burned with fire."]
Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say to you, 'Declare to us now what you have said to the king, and also what the king said to you; do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death,' then you shall say to them, 'I presented my request before the king, that he would not make me return to Jonathan's house to die there.'" Then all the princes came to Jeremiah and asked him. And he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been heard. Now Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken. And he was there when Jerusalem was taken.
[2-hnvn. So King Zedekiah presided over the demise of Judea and leveling of Jerusalem knowing full well what was going to happen. One might say that King Zedekiah was "blinded" by his ungodly love for Judean "national sovereignty" long before he was physically blinded by order of King Nebuchadnezzar.]
In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated. Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag, with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon. So it was, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city by night, by way of the king's garden, by the gate between the two walls. And he went out by way of the plain. But the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they had captured him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.
[2-hvn. Like a vampire, the concept of national sovereignty tends to take the lives of those who worship it the most.]
And the Chaldeans burned the king's house and the houses of the people with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive to Babylon the remnant of the people who remained in the city and those who defected to him, with the rest of the people who remained. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left in the land of Judah the poor people, who had nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, "Take him and look after him, and do him no harm; but do to him just as he says to you." So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent Nebushasban, Rabsaris, Nergal-Sharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's chief officers;
then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people.
[2-hvn. Evidently, King Nebuchadnezzar learned about Jeremiah's attempts to reason with King Zedekiah from the Judeans who had defected to the Babylonian army. Since Jeremiah was teaching that the Babylonian invaders were "acting on behalf of the Lord", Nebuchadnezzar may have figured it would be to his advantage to keep Jeremiah around. There were also practical reasons for Nebuzaradan to leave the poor behind to work the fields. Those fields were a form of income (tax) for the Babylonian Empire; they would be of no use to the Babylonians if they were totally abandoned.]
Meanwhile the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, "Go and speak to Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for adversity and not for good, and they shall be performed in that day before you. But I will deliver you in that day," says the LORD, "and you shall not be given into the hand of the men of whom you are afraid. For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me," says the LORD.'"
[2-hvn. That is, God will save those who act in accordance with his will. Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian was acting in accordance with God's commandment to love his neighbor as himself when he rescued Jeremiah from the muddy pit.]
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah, who were carried away captive to Babylon. And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him: "The LORD your God has pronounced this doom on this place. Now the LORD has brought it, and has done just as He said. Because you people have sinned against the LORD, and not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing has come upon you. And now look, I free you this day from the chains that were on your hand. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you. But if it seems wrong for you to come with me to Babylon, remain here. See, all the land is before you; wherever it seems good and convenient for you to go, go there."
[2-hvn. This makes it appear that the ancient Babylonians worshipped the Lord as well, although historically that was not the case. Nebuzaradan may have been simply following orders and talking to Jeremiah in terms that he would understand and appreciate.]
Now while Jeremiah had not yet gone back, Nebuzaradan said, "Go back to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever it seems convenient for you to go." So the captain of the guard gave him rations and a gift and let him go. Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land.
[2-hvn. Apparently, although he received special treatment from the Babylonians, Jeremiah did not want to be remembered as a Babylonian collaborator.]
And when all the captains of the armies who were in the fields, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and the poorest of the land who had not been carried away captive to Babylon, then they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah--Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men. And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, took an oath before them and their men, saying, "Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us. But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken."
[2-hnv. The Babylonians put Gedaliah in charge of those who remained, and Gedaliah urged his people to make the best of their present circumstances. These was same kind of message that Jeremiah had given to the Judean captives in Babylon.]
Likewise, when all the Jews who were in Moab, among the Ammonites, in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruit in abundance. Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and said to him, "Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?" But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them. Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah in Mizpah, saying, "Let me go, please, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he murder you, so that all the Jews who are gathered to you would be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?" But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, "You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael."
[2-hvn. As we shall see, Johanan was not speaking falsely concerning Ishmael's intentions. Gedaliah acted in a godly manner by refusing to accept Johanan's proposal to assassinate Ishmael, but he should have tried harder to determine the truth regarding Ishmael's intentions. The Ammonites had been badly mistreated by the Judeans since the days of King David, so acts of revenge against the Judeans while they were in such a weakened state might have been expected. They were, after all, living under conditions of near anarchy.]
Now it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal family and of the officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. And there they ate bread together in Mizpah. Then Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men who were with him, arose and struck Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. Ishmael also struck down all the Jews who were with him, that is, with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war.
[2-hvn. In order for a mere eleven men to do that much damage, they must have killed their victims while they were sleeping.]
And it happened, on the second day after he had killed Gedaliah, when as yet no one knew it, that certain men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, eighty men with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD. Now Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went along; and it happened as he met them that he said to them, "Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam!" So it was, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah killed them and cast them into the midst of a pit, he and the men who were with him. But ten men were found among them who said to Ishmael, "Do not kill us, for we have treasures of wheat, barley, oil, and honey in the field." So he desisted and did not kill them among their brethren. Now the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain, because of Gedaliah, was the same one Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain. Then Ishmael carried away captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king's daughters and all the people who remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive and departed to go over to the Ammonites.
[2-hvn. Again, it's amazing that a mere eleven men could overpower and kill that many people, even if their victims were unarmed at the time.]
But when Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, they took all the men and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah; and they found him by the great pool that is in Gibeon. So it was, when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were with him, that they were glad. Then all the people whom Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah turned around and came back, and went to Johanan the son of Kareah. But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men and went to the Ammonites. Then Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah after he had murdered Gedaliah the son of Ahikam--the mighty men of war and the women and the children and the eunuchs, whom he had brought back from Gibeon. And they departed and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is near Bethlehem, as they went on their way to Egypt, because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had murdered Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor in the land.
[2-hvn. Such is the way of life when living under conditions of near anarchy. It's amazing that they didn't simply execute Ishmael when they had the chance, considering what he had done. Evidently, Johanan was hoping to be able to restore some semblance of civility among his people at that time.]
Now all the captains of the forces, Johanan the son of Kareah, Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), that the LORD your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do." Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, "I have heard. Indeed, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your words, and it shall be, that whatever the LORD answers you, I will declare it to you. I will keep nothing back from you." So they said to Jeremiah, "Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the LORD your God sends us by you. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God."
[2-hvn. Apparently, in order to restore civility among the people, they decided to seek guidance from the Lord through Jeremiah, whose prophecies had been coming true so far.]
And it happened after ten days that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 'If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,' says the LORD, 'for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.' But if you say, 'We will not dwell in this land,' disobeying the voice of the LORD your God, saying, 'No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell'--Then hear now the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to sojourn there, then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.' For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'As My anger and My fury have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My fury be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.' The LORD has said concerning you, O remnant of Judah, 'Do not go to Egypt!' Know certainly that I have admonished you this day. For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, 'Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.' And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, or anything which He has sent you by me. Now therefore, know certainly that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to dwell."
[2-hvn. It was clear, according to Jeremiah, the Lord did NOT want the remnant of Judeans to flee to Egypt.]
Now it happened, when Jeremiah had stopped speaking to all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, all these words, that Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men spoke, saying to Jeremiah, "You speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, 'Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.' But Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may put us to death or carry us away captive to Babylon." So Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces, and all the people would not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah. But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to dwell in the land of Judah, from all nations where they had been driven--men, women, children, the king's daughters, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they went to the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they went as far as Tahpanhes.
[2-hvn. As they had done before, they ignored Jeremiah's advice, even though they had promised to follow whatever advice they would receive from the Lord through Jeremiah. It's also clear that they viewed Jeremiah and Baruch as being Babylonian collaborators. They were still viewing the world from the point of view of Judean "national sovereignty" rather than from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments.]
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, "Take large stones in your hand, and hide them in the sight of the men of Judah, in the clay in the brick courtyard which is at the entrance to Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes; and say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will send and bring Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden. And he will spread his royal pavilion over them. When he comes, he shall strike the land of Egypt and deliver to death those appointed for death, and to captivity those appointed for captivity, and to the sword those appointed for the sword. I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away captive. And he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd puts on his garment, and he shall go out from there in peace. He shall also break the sacred pillars of Beth Shemesh that are in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians he shall burn with fire."'"
[2-hvn. Here Jeremiah "went on record" as predicting that Egypt would be defeated and subjugated by the Babylonians. Historically, the Babylonians did defeat the Egyptian army in various places, but they didn't actually subjugate Egypt.]
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who dwell in the land of Egypt, who dwell at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'You have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke Me to anger, in that they went to burn incense and to serve other gods whom they did not know, they nor you nor your fathers. However I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, "Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!" But they did not listen or incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods. So My fury and My anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as it is this day.' Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, out of Judah, leaving none to remain, in that you provoke Me to wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have gone to dwell, that you may cut yourselves off and be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, the wickedness of their wives, your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? They have not been humbled, to this day, nor have they feared; they have not walked in My law or in My statutes that I set before you and your fathers.' Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to dwell there, and they shall all be consumed and fall in the land of Egypt. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine. They shall die, from the least to the greatest, by the sword and by famine; and they shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse and a reproach! For I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah who have gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there shall escape or survive, lest they return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return and dwell. For none shall return except those who escape.'"
[2-hvn. Although not recorded in the Bible, it is a commonly belief among ancient and modern scholars that Jeremiah was put to death by his fellow Judeans in Egypt for making pronouncements such as the one above.]
Then all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods, with all the women who stood by, a great multitude, and all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying: "As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well off, and saw no trouble. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine." The women also said, "And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make cakes for her, to worship her, and pour out drink offerings to her without our husbands' permission?"
[3-hvn. The "queen of heaven" refers to a moon-goddess of fertility that was widely worshipped (especially by women) throughout the middle east in those days. Women who were infertile in those days were considered to be "cursed" or "useless." Notice how easy it was (even after all that had just happened) for those Judean refugees to dream up alternative "supernatural" explanations for why they had suffered at the hands of the Babylonians. That's one of the problems with so-called "supernatural" explanations--the number and variety of such explanations is limited only by one's imagination. Unlike God's two most fundamental commandments, there are no consistent principles required for dreaming up "supernatural" explanations for what is going on in the world around us. That's one of the reasons why paganism eventually lost its credibility and faded away as a viable religion.]
Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people--the men, the women, and all the people who had given him that answer--saying: "The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and did it not come into His mind? So the LORD could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned incense and because you have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, in His statutes or in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day." Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people and to all the women, "Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt! Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: 'You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, "We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her." You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!' Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: 'Behold, I have sworn by My great name,' says the LORD, 'that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, "The Lord GOD lives." Behold, I will watch over them for adversity and not for good. And all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end to them. Yet a small number who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah; and all the remnant of Judah, who have gone to the land of Egypt to dwell there, shall know whose words will stand, Mine or theirs. And this shall be a sign to you,' says the LORD, 'that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for adversity.' Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.'"
[2-hvn. This sort of sounds like "de je vu all over again", except this time in Egypt.]
The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 'You said, "Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest."' Thus you shall say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh," says the LORD. "But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go."'"
[2-hvn. Evidently, Baruch took these reassurance seriously. As far as we know, this prophecy was fulfilled. The fact that the writings of Jeremiah and Baruch were not lost indicates that Baruch had time to make arrangements to ensure their safekeeping after he passed away.]
The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations. Against Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, which was by the River Euphrates in Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "Order the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle! Harness the horses, and mount up, you horsemen! Stand forth with your helmets, Polish the spears, put on the armor! Why have I seen them dismayed and turned back? Their mighty ones are beaten down; they have speedily fled, and did not look back, for fear was all around," says the LORD. "Do not let the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they will stumble and fall toward the north, by the River Euphrates. Who is this coming up like a flood, whose waters move like the rivers? Egypt rises up like a flood, and its waters move like the rivers; and he says, 'I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.' Come up, O horses, and rage, O chariots! And let the mighty men come forth: the Ethiopians and the Libyans who handle the shield, and the Lydians who handle and bend the bow. For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; it shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; for the Lord GOD of hosts has a sacrifice in the north country by the River Euphrates. Go up to Gilead and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt; in vain you will use many medicines; you shall not be cured. The nations have heard of your shame, and your cry has filled the land; for the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty; they both have fallen together."
[2-hvn. It seems rather un-Jeremiah-like (and ungodly) to portray God as if He were some kind of CheerLeader joyously encouraging two nations to kill each other's people. Perhaps this was written early in Jeremiah's career when he was more heavily influenced by the Levite tradition of writing "burden against" types of pronouncements. Although the events described here took place before the first Babylonian exile occurred, it appears that the editor who compiled the writings that became the book of Jeremiah put this chapter here to make it appear that Jeremiah's prophecies in Chapter 44 were indeed fulfilled.]
The word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would come and strike the land of Egypt. "Declare in Egypt, and proclaim in Migdol; proclaim in Noph and in Tahpanhes; say, 'Stand fast and prepare yourselves, for the sword devours all around you.' Why are your valiant men swept away? They did not stand because the LORD drove them away. He made many fall; yes, one fell upon another. And they said, 'Arise! Let us go back to our own people and to the land of our nativity from the oppressing sword.' They cried there, 'Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is but a noise. He has passed by the appointed time!' As I live," says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, "Surely as Tabor is among the mountains and as Carmel by the sea, so he shall come. O you daughter dwelling in Egypt, prepare yourself to go into captivity! For Noph shall be waste and desolate, without inhabitant. Egypt is a very pretty heifer, but destruction comes, it comes from the north. Also her mercenaries are in her midst like fat bulls, for they also are turned back, they have fled away together. They did not stand, for the day of their calamity had come upon them, the time of their punishment. Her noise shall go like a serpent, for they shall march with an army and come against her with axes, like those who chop wood. They shall cut down her forest," says the LORD, "Though it cannot be searched, because they are innumerable, and more numerous than grasshoppers. The daughter of Egypt shall be ashamed; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north." The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says: "Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings--Pharaoh and those who trust in him. And I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of his servants. Afterward it shall be inhabited as in the days of old," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. The Judean King Josiah was slain when he attempted to oppose an Egyptian campaign to annex middle eastern lands extending as far east as the Euphrates River. But the Egyptians were repulsed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar who chased the Egyptians all the way back to Egypt.]
But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; no one shall make him afraid. Do not fear, O Jacob My servant," says the LORD, "For I am with you; for I will make a complete end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, for I will not leave you wholly unpunished."
[2-hvn. This may have been inserted here to imply the fulfillment of Jeremiah's dire prophecies about Egypt following the sacking of Jerusalem, but it contradicts Jeremiah's dire prophecies regarding the remnant of Judeans who fled to Egypt.]
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza. Thus says the LORD: "Behold, waters rise out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood; they shall overflow the land and all that is in it, the city and those who dwell within; then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail. At the noise of the stamping hooves of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers will not look back for their children, lacking courage, Because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains; for the LORD shall plunder the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley. How long will you cut yourself? O you sword of the LORD, how long until you are quiet? Put yourself up into your scabbard, rest and be still! How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD has given it a charge against Ashkelon and against the seashore? There He has appointed it."
[2-hvn. This was apparently written shortly after King Jehoiakim cut a deal with the empire-expanding Babylonians. It's unclear why this was inserted so late in the book. Notice that like Isaiah-1during the Assyrian invasions, Jeremiah expresses horror or at least pity over the brutal treatment that the Philistines were receiving at the hands of the Babylonians in spite of the fact that the Philistines were traditionally adversaries of the Judeans. Nevertheless, Jeremiah viewed the Babylonians as being "instruments of the Lord" at that time.]
[2-hvn. Since the Philistines had no written language of their own, most of what we know about their history is based on accounts that were written about them by their neighboring enemies. Although they appeared to have "vanish from history" around this time, they may simply have lost their identity as a result of Assyrian and Babylonian deportations and intermarrying with the inhabitants of the nations into which they had fled to escape Assyrian, Egyptian and Babylonian invasions. The Jews retained their identity primarily as a result of the spiritual and written efforts of their prophets, priests, and scribes. Some may argue that the Jews retained their identity due to their observance of the Levite prohibitions against "intermarriage", but as the Old Testament shows time and again (starting with Tamar) the physical lineage of the Jews was far from "pure." Also, as I have pointed out in various earlier articles on www.onesalt.com, the Levites' ungodly "intermarriage" restriction on their definition of neighbor has Biblically and historically proven to be far more of a liability than an asset for the Jews.]
[3-hvn. Notice how the Lord through Jeremiah allegorically portrays the Babylonian army as being like the rising waters of a flood. This may have contributed to St. John's vision in Revelation 17:15, "Then he said to me, 'The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues."]
[2-hvn. It appears unlikely that the remaining chapters of the book of Jeremiah were written by either Jeremiah or Baruch. Chapters 48 through 51 are written using the general theme and style of the "burden against" kind of writings of Isaiah-1. Chapter 52 was clearly written in Babylon long after Jeremiah died.]
Against Moab. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Woe to Nebo! For it is plundered, Kirjathaim is shamed and taken; the high stronghold is shamed and dismayed--No more praise of Moab. In Heshbon they have devised evil against her: 'Come, and let us cut her off as a nation.' You also shall be cut down, O Madmen! The sword shall pursue you; A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim: 'Plundering and great destruction!' Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard; For in the Ascent of Luhith they ascend with continual weeping; for in the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction. Flee, save your lives! And be like the juniper in the wilderness. For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, his priests and his princes together. And the plunderer shall come against every city; no one shall escape. The valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD has spoken. Give wings to Moab, that she may flee and get away; for her cities shall be desolate, without any to dwell in them. Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.
[2-hvn. It's highly unlikely that Jeremiah would have said or written "cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood", because that contradicts the central theme of peace that evolved throughout his ministry. It's also unclear from the text as to when this was written. It could have been referring to the Assyrian invasion, the Egyptian invasion, the first Babylonian invasion, the second Babylonian invasion, or the Medes and Persian invasion.]
Moab has been at ease from his youth; he has settled on his dregs, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed. Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I shall send him wine-workers who will tip him over and empty his vessels and break the bottles. Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence. "How can you say, 'We are mighty and strong men for the war'? Moab is plundered and gone up from her cities; her chosen young men have gone down to the slaughter," says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. "The calamity of Moab is near at hand, and his affliction comes quickly. Bemoan him, all you who are around him; and all you who know his name, say, 'How the strong staff is broken, the beautiful rod!' O daughter inhabiting Dibon, come down from your glory, and sit in thirst; for the plunderer of Moab has come against you, he has destroyed your strongholds. O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way and watch; ask him who flees and her who escapes; say, 'What has happened?' Moab is shamed, for he is broken down. Wail and cry! Tell it in Arnon, that Moab is plundered. And judgment has come on the plain country: on Holon and Jahzah and Mephaath, On Dibon and Nebo and Beth Diblathaim, On Kirjathaim and Beth Gamul and Beth Meon, On Kerioth and Bozrah, on all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near. The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. The Moabites rebelled and achieved independence from the Israelites after the Levite priest Ahijah engineered the breakup of King Solomons's kingdom into Israel and Judea. It appears that the Judeans deeply resented the Moabites for that ever since. Such resentment was inspired by Satan, not God.]
"Make him drunk, because he exalted himself against the LORD. Moab shall wallow in his vomit, and he shall also be in derision. For was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him, you shake your head in scorn. You who dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove which makes her nest in the sides of the cave's mouth. We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, and of the haughtiness of his heart. I know his wrath," says the LORD, "But it is not right; his lies have made nothing right. Therefore I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres. O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer. Your plants have gone over the sea, they reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and your vintage. Joy and gladness are taken from the plentiful field and from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; no one will tread with joyous shouting--not joyous shouting! From the cry of Heshbon to Elealeh and to Jahaz they have uttered their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim, like a three-year-old heifer; for the waters of Nimrim also shall be desolate."
[2-hvn. Saying, "I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres..." sounds rather hypocritical or insincere in this context. This chapter, which is NOT an accurate example or portrayal of God's Will, illustrates some of the shortcomings of the Levite mode of reasoning.]
"Moreover," says the LORD, "I will cause to cease in Moab the one who offers sacrifices in the high places and burns incense to his gods. Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab, and like flutes My heart shall wail for the men of Kir Heres. Therefore the riches they have acquired have perished. For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped; on all the hands shall be cuts, and on the loins sackcloth--A general lamentation on all the housetops of Moab, and in its streets; for I have broken Moab like a vessel in which is no pleasure," says the LORD. "They shall wail: 'How she is broken down! How Moab has turned her back with shame!' So Moab shall be a derision and a dismay to all those about her." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are surprised; the mighty men's hearts in Moab on that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs. And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he exalted himself against the LORD. Fear and the pit and the snare shall be upon you, O inhabitant of Moab," says the LORD. "He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who gets out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For upon Moab, upon it I will bring the year of their punishment," says the LORD. "Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the brow of Moab, the crown of the head of the sons of tumult. Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; for your sons have been taken captive, and your daughters captive. Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days," says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
[2-hvn. So the Lord finally says regarding Moab, "Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days." Could this mean that "in the latter days" the Moabites then and now will be viewed more in a manner that is in keeping with God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves?]
[2-hvn. This chapter contains a collection of prophetic writings. Of these, only last one can be reliably attributed to Jeremiah.]
Against the Ammonites. Thus says the LORD: "Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then does Milcom inherit Gad, and his people dwell in its cities? Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire. Then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance," says the LORD. Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is plundered! Cry, you daughters of Rabbah, gird yourselves with sackcloth! Lament and run to and fro by the walls; for Milcom shall go into captivity with his priests and his princes together. Why do you boast in the valleys, your flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? Who trusted in her treasures, saying, 'Who will come against me?' Behold, I will bring fear upon you," says the Lord GOD of hosts, "From all those who are around you; you shall be driven out, everyone headlong, and no one will gather those who wander off. But afterward I will bring back the captives of the people of Ammon," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Could this mean that "in the latter days" the Ammonites then and now will be viewed more in a manner that is in keeping with God's commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves?]
Against Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished? Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan! For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will punish him. If grape-gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? If thieves by night, would they not destroy until they have enough? But I have made Esau bare; I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself. His descendants are plundered, his brethren and his neighbors, and he is no more. Leave your fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let your widows trust in Me." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, those whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunk. And are you the one who will altogether go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you shall surely drink of it. For I have sworn by Myself," says the LORD, "that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse. And all its cities shall be perpetual wastes." I have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador has been sent to the nations: "Gather together, come against her, and rise up to battle! For indeed, I will make you small among nations, despised among men. Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there," says the LORD. "Edom also shall be an astonishment; everyone who goes by it will be astonished and will hiss at all its plagues. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors," says the LORD, "No one shall remain there, nor shall a son of man dwell in it. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the floodplain of the Jordan against the dwelling place of the strong; but I will suddenly make him run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? Who will arraign Me? And who is that shepherd who will withstand Me?" Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that He has taken against Edom, and His purposes that He has proposed against the inhabitants of Teman: surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely He shall make their dwelling places desolate with them. The earth shakes at the noise of their fall; at the cry its noise is heard at the Red Sea. Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah; the heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.
[2-hvn. After King David's acts of genocide against the Edomites (I Kings 11:15), it's little wonder that they chose to side with the Babylonians against the Judeans. Obadiah made similar dire prophecies regarding the Edomites, perhaps for the same reason.]
Against Damascus. "Hamath and Arpad are shamed, for they have heard bad news. They are fainthearted; there is trouble on the sea; it cannot be quiet. Damascus has grown feeble; she turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day," says the LORD of hosts. "I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad."
[2-hvn. Since the name "Ben-Hadad" was used by several Syrian kings, it is difficult to determine what time period this prophecy is referring to or whether or not it was actually fulfilled.]
Against Kedar and against the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon shall strike. Thus says the LORD: "Arise, go up to Kedar, and devastate the men of the East! Their tents and their flocks they shall take away. They shall take for themselves their curtains, all their vessels and their camels; and they shall cry out to them, 'Fear is on every side!' Flee, get far away! Dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Hazor!" says the LORD. "For Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has taken counsel against you, and has conceived a plan against you. Arise, go up to the wealthy nation that dwells securely," says the LORD, "Which has neither gates nor bars, dwelling alone. Their camels shall be for booty, and the multitude of their cattle for plunder. I will scatter to all winds those in the farthest corners, and I will bring their calamity from all its sides," says the LORD. "Hazor shall be a dwelling for jackals, a desolation forever; no one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it."
[2-hvn. In this prophecy, king Nebuchadnezzar is specifically mentioned which narrows down the intended time period. Here the Lord through this author advises Nebuchadnezzar's potential victims to flee to the desert where nomadic peoples lived with "neither gates or bars." Apparently, the author of this prophecy received information that Nebuchadnezzar's army was planning to seize the camels, livestock, and tents of the people who lived in Kedar and Hazor. Notice that there are no accusations in this prophecy that the residents of Kedar and Hazor had done anything wrong.]
The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the foremost of their might. Against Elam I will bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them toward all those winds; there shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, my fierce anger,' says the LORD; 'And I will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the princes,' says the LORD. 'But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,' says the LORD."
[2-hvn. This prophecy indeed appears to have been written by Jeremiah. Notice that it likewise contains no accusations that the people of Elam (the Medes) had done anything wrong. Evidently, the Babylonians regarded them to be such a serious threat that they went to the trouble of launching an attack from all sides (from the "four winds") in order to subdue or disperse them. Descendants of the Elamites were no doubt among the Medes who joined with the Persians to destroy the Babylon Empire two generations later. As predicted, King Cyrus (who allowed the Israelites to return to Judea) established his thrown in Elam for a while.]
[2-hvn. According to Jeremiah 51:59-64, the prophecies in Chapters 51 and 52 may in fact be based on (biased) recollections of some prophecies against Babylon that were written by Jeremiah during the fourth year in the reign of Zedekiah and sent by the hand of Seraiah to the Judean captives of the first Babylonian deportation. After reading the original prophesies, the captives were instructed to tie the scroll upon which they were written to a stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. If they were indeed based on recollections, it is open to question as just how anti-Babylonian Jeremiah's original prophecies actually were. In fact, these two chapters may have been dreamed up entirely shortly before the fall of Babylon. Keep in mind that during the fourth year of the reign of Kind Zedekaih (and for years thereafter), Jeremiah continued to urge King Zedekiah to cut a deal with the Babylonians, and he continued writing prophecies that portrayed the Babylonians as being an "instrument of God's wrath." Furthermore, in Chapter 29 we saw that Jeremiah encouraged the Judean captives in Babylon to willingly serve the Babylonians, to be neighborly, and to make the best of their circumstances there.]
The word that the LORD spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. "Declare among the nations, proclaim, and set up a standard; proclaim--do not conceal it--say, 'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are humiliated, her images are broken in pieces.' For out of the north a nation comes up against her, which shall make her land desolate, and no one shall dwell therein."
[2-hvn. The Medes, at least, did not exist as a nation in the fourth year of the reign of King Zedekiah.]
"They shall move, they shall depart, both man and beast. In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together; with continual weeping they shall come, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces toward it, saying, 'Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that will not be forgotten.' My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, 'We have not offended, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.' Move from the midst of Babylon, go out of the land of the Chaldeans; and be like the rams before the flocks.
[2-hvn. As we have seen in earlier articles on www.onesalt.com, Jeremiah's hope that the Judeans who returned to Judea from Babylon would "see the light" and remain true to God was once again subverted by Judea's own religious "shepherds" (Ezra and Nehemiah) who led them astray.]
For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be captured. Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; none shall return in vain. And Chaldea shall become plunder; all who plunder her shall be satisfied," says the LORD. "Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, you destroyers of My heritage, because you have grown fat like a heifer threshing grain, and you bellow like bulls, Your mother shall be deeply ashamed; she who bore you shall be ashamed. Behold, the least of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a desert. Because of the wrath of the LORD she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues. Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around, all you who bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the LORD. Shout against her all around; she has given her hand, her foundations have fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the LORD. Take vengeance on her. As she has done, so do to her. Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him who handles the sickle at harvest time. For fear of the oppressing sword everyone shall turn to his own people, and everyone shall flee to his own land. Israel is like scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria devoured him; now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones."
[2-hvn. As you can see, this appears to have been written shortly before or possibly even after the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persian alliance.]
Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. But I will bring back Israel to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; his soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve. Go up against the land of Merathaim, against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod. Waste and utterly destroy them," says the LORD, "And do according to all that I have commanded you. A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. How the hammer of the whole earth has been cut apart and broken! How Babylon has become a desolation among the nations! I have laid a snare for you; You have indeed been trapped, O Babylon, and you were not aware; you have been found and also caught, because you have contended against the Lord. The LORD has opened His armory, and has brought out the weapons of His indignation; for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans. Come against her from the farthest border; open her storehouses; cast her up as heaps of ruins, and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left. Slay all her bulls, let them go down to the slaughter. Woe to them! For their day has come, the time of their punishment. The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon declares in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of His temple. Call together the archers against Babylon. All you who bend the bow, encamp against it all around; let none of them escape. Repay her according to her work; according to all she has done, do to her; for she has been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel. Therefore her young men shall fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. This sounds far more like the writings of a traditional Levite like Ezra than like the writings of Jeremiah.]
"Behold, I am against you, O most haughty one!" says the Lord GOD of hosts; "For your day has come, the time that I will punish you. The most proud shall stumble and fall, and no one will raise him up; I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all around him." Thus says the LORD of hosts: "The children of Israel were oppressed, along with the children of Judah; all who took them captive have held them fast; they have refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. A sword is against the Chaldeans," says the LORD, "Against the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her princes and her wise men. A sword is against the soothsayers, and they will be fools. A sword is against her mighty men, and they will be dismayed. A sword is against their horses, against their chariots, and against all the mixed peoples who are in her midst; and they will become like women. A sword is against her treasures, and they will be robbed. A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is the land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols. Therefore the wild desert beasts shall dwell there with the jackals, and the ostriches shall dwell in it. It shall be inhabited no more forever, nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors," says the LORD, "So no one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it. Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation and many kings shall be raised up from the ends of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance; they are cruel and shall not show mercy. Their voice shall roar like the sea; they shall ride on horses, set in array, like a man for the battle, against you, O daughter of Babylon. The king of Babylon has heard the report about them, and his hands grow feeble; anguish has taken hold of him, Pangs as of a woman in childbirth. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the floodplain of the Jordan against the dwelling place of the strong; but I will make them suddenly run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? Who will arraign Me? And who is that shepherd who will withstand Me?" Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that He has taken against Babylon, and His purposes that He has proposed against the land of the Chaldeans: surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; surely He will make their dwelling place desolate with them. At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth trembles, and the cry is heard among the nations.
[2-hvn. Notice that the sentence "The king of Babylon has heard the report about them, and his hands grow feeble; anguish has taken hold of him, Pangs as of a woman in childbirth" is written in the past tense. It's as if the author had heard about the King's reaction from a member or servant in the King's court or household.]
Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, against those who dwell in Leb Kamai, a destroying wind. And I will send winnowers to Babylon, who shall winnow her and empty her land. For in the day of doom they shall be against her all around. Against her let the archer bend his bow, and lift himself up against her in his armor. Do not spare her young men; utterly destroy all her army. Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and those thrust through in her streets."
[2-hvn. "Do not spare her young men; utterly destroy all her army"? That doesn't sound like Jeremiah.]
For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the LORD of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel." Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the LORD'S vengeance; he shall recompense her. Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD'S hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged. Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country; for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies."
[3-hvn. The allegorical imagery here is similar to the portrayal of the "Scarlet Harlot" in Revelation 17, except that Babylon is portrayed here as the cup itself rather than the woman. Babylon was becoming a victim of its own imperial way of defining 'national sovereignty." The people of the nations that were about to deal so cruelly with the Babylonians learned how to "morally justify" such cruelty from the Babylonians themselves.]
"The LORD has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God. Make the arrows bright! Gather the shields! The LORD has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. For His plan is against Babylon to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for His temple. Set up the standard on the walls of Babylon; make the guard strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes. For the LORD has both devised and done what He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon. O you who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your covetousness. The LORD of hosts has sworn by Himself: "Surely I will fill you with men, as with locusts, and they shall lift up a shout against you." He has made the earth by His power; he has established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding. When He utters His voice--there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: "He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain; he brings the wind out of His treasuries." Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment they shall perish."
[2-hvn. Notice that the "kings of the Medes" are specifically mentioned above as being the instrument of the Lord's wrath against Babylon. It is unlikely that Jeremiah would have known this or even predicted this based on the situation that existed during the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah.]
"The Portion of Jacob is not like them, for He is the Maker of all things; and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. The LORD of hosts is His name. You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: for with you I will break the nation in pieces; with you I will destroy kingdoms; With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; with you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider; With you also I will break in pieces man and woman; with you I will break in pieces old and young; with you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden; With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock; with you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen; and with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers. And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Here it's unclear where the author is referring to the Medes or the Judeans when he uses the word "you". ]
"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth," says the LORD. "And I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain. They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever," says the LORD. "Set up a banner in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations against her, call the kingdoms together against her: Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her; cause the horses to come up like the bristling locusts. Prepare against her the nations, with the kings of the Medes, its governors and all its rulers, all the land of his dominion. And the land will tremble and sorrow; for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they have remained in their strongholds; their might has failed, they became like women; they have burned her dwelling places, the bars of her gate are broken. One runner will run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken on all sides; The passages are blocked, the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are terrified." For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor when it is time to thresh her; yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come." Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me, he has crushed me; he has made me an empty vessel, he has swallowed me up like a monster; he has filled his stomach with my delicacies, he has spit me out. Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon," the inhabitant of Zion will say; "And my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea!" Jerusalem will say.
[2-hvn. Again, this does not sound like Jeremiah speaking.]
Therefore thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will plead your case and take vengeance for you. I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry.
[2-hvn. As reported in the book of Daniel, the Medes diverted the Euphrates River (i.e. "dried up her sea and made here springs dry") in order to enter Babylon under its walled fortifications.]
Babylon shall become a heap, a dwelling place for jackals, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant. They shall roar together like lions, they shall growl like lions' whelps. In their excitement I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake," says the LORD. "I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with male goats. Oh, how Sheshach is taken! Oh, how the praise of the whole earth is seized! How Babylon has become desolate among the nations! The sea has come up over Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of its waves. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land and a wilderness, a land where no one dwells, through which no son of man passes. I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring out of his mouth what he has swallowed; and the nations shall not stream to him anymore. Yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall. My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD. And lest your heart faint, and you fear for the rumor that will be heard in the land (A rumor will come one year, and after that, in another year a rumor will come, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler), Therefore behold, the days are coming that I will bring judgment on the carved images of Babylon; her whole land shall be ashamed, and all her slain shall fall in her midst. Then the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall sing joyously over Babylon; for the plunderers shall come to her from the north," says the LORD.
[2-hvn. Unlike Jeremiah (and Daniel, for that matter), it's clear that the author of Chapters 50 and 51 HATED the Babylonians a LOT. He goes on and on expressing his hatred in one way or another (and falsely attributing that hatred to God).]
As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall. You who have escaped the sword, get away! Do not stand still! Remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come to your mind. We are ashamed because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the LORD'S house. "Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will bring judgment on her carved images, and throughout all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me plunderers would come to her," says the LORD. The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans, Because the LORD is plundering Babylon and silencing her loud voice, though her waves roar like great waters, and the noise of their voice is uttered, Because the plunderer comes against her, against Babylon, and her mighty men are taken. Every one of their bows is broken; for the LORD is the God of recompense, he will surely repay. "And I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her governors, her deputies, and her mighty men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake," says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. Thus says the LORD of hosts: "The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; the people will labor in vain, and the nations, because of the fire; and they shall be weary."
[2-hvn. Whew! Among other things, one might say the author of Chapters 50 and 51 was "long winded."]
The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And Seraiah was the quartermaster. So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, "When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, then you shall say, 'O LORD, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever.' Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. Then you shall say, 'Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary.'" Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
[2-hvn. This makes it appear that Jeremiah might have instructed them to destroy the scroll because he was afraid that the Babylonians would learn about his dire prophecies regarding future of Babylon--thereby ruining any chances he might have of surviving the sacking of Jerusalem. That might have been so, but I kind of doubt it. Jeremiah demonstrated time and again that he wasn't afraid to tell the truth to anyone--even if it might cost him his life. I strongly suspect that except where noted above, the writings in Chapters 50 and 51 were a complete fabrication by that late Babylonian captive author. He did Jeremiah and God a terrible injustice by misrepresenting them so blatantly.]
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, till He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
[2-hvn. This was clearly written sometime after Zedekiah's death by someone who witnessed at least some of those events and who was subsequently deported to Babylon. The comment that King Zedekiah "did evil in the sight of the Lord" strongly indicates that this author was a Levite priest or scribe.]
Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD and the king's house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poor people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers. The bronze pillars that were in the house of the LORD, and the carts and the bronze Sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the bowls, the spoons, and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. The basins, the firepans, the bowls, the pots, the lampstands, the spoons, and the cups, whatever was solid gold and whatever was solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. The two pillars, one Sea, the twelve bronze bulls which were under it, and the carts, which King Solomon had made for the house of the LORD--the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. Now concerning the pillars: the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, a measuring line of twelve cubits could measure its circumference, and its thickness was four fingers; it was hollow. A capital of bronze was on it; and the height of one capital was five cubits, with a network and pomegranates all around the capital, all of bronze. The second pillar, with pomegranates was the same. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates, all around on the network, were one hundred.
[2-hvn. The concern for detail regarding the contents of the Temple indicates that the author of this chapter was probably a young (or lower ranking) Temple priest or scribe who was deported rather than executed as described below.]
The captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. He also took out of the city an officer who had charge of the men of war, seven men of the king's close associates who were found in the city, the principal scribe of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the midst of the city. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took these and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath.
[2-hvn. After two Judean rebellions, it's clear that Nebuchadnezzar didn't want to leave anybody behind in Judea who might try to instigate a third rebellion.]
Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land. These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews; in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred and thirty-two persons; in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred and forty-five persons. All the persons were four thousand six hundred.
[2-hvn. This historical concern for the actual number of people indicates to me that this author was probably a scribe.]
Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king of Babylon, a portion for each day until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
[This Jehoiachin was the son of Jehoiakin who led the first rebellion against Babylon. Jehoiachin ruled Judea for only three months before the Babylonians appointed King Zedekiah to take his place. Perhaps in retrospect, King Evil-Merodach figured that replacing Jehoiachin with Zedekiah was a mistake. The author of this chapter must have been fairly young when he was deported, because he evidently out-lived both Zedekiah and Jehoiachin (each of whom apparently died a natural death).]
1. Jeremiah was a courageous and highly significant pioneer on the path toward improving mankind's understanding the true nature of God and His Will. The differences between Jeremiah's themes and teachings vs. the traditional teachings of the Levites were almost as great as the differences between the teachings of the Pharisees vs. the 2nd-heaven teachings of Jesus Christ.
2. Jeremiah's writings primarily reflected the 2nd-heaven level of interpretation of the scriptures. The few instances where a 3rd-heaven level of interpretation was clearly intended (as in Chapter 31) may have been added after the Judeans returned from their exile in Babylon by the individuals referred to in Ezra 10:15.
3. Jeremiah was one of those who led the Judeans in the first century AD to expect the coming of a "Messiah."]
4. Some of the chapters in the book of Jeremiah were clearly not written by either Jeremiah or Baruch.]
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