The bad situation of Jeremiah (Jer 23:9-23:10)

“My heart is crushed

Within me

Concerning the prophets.

All my bones shake.

I have become

Like a drunken man

Because of Yahweh.

I have become

Like one overcome by wine

Because of his holy words.

The land is full of adulterers.

Because of the curse,

The land mourns.

The pastures of the wilderness

Are dried up.

Their course has been evil.

Their might is not right.”

Jeremiah complains about the terrible situation he is in. His heart is crushed. His bones shake. He has become like a drunkard, overcome with wine, because of Yahweh and his words. His land is full of adulterers. His land itself mourns as the pastures have dried up. There is evil all around. No one does the right thing. Jeremiah is worried.

The past and future Exodus (Jer 23:7-23:8)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore the days are surely coming,

When it shall no longer be said.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought the people of Israel

Up out of the land of Egypt.’

But they will say.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought out,

He led the offspring

Of the house of Israel

Out of the north,

Out of all the lands,

Where he had driven them.’

Then they shall live

In their own land.”

This is almost a word for word duplication from chapter 16 about the past and future Exodus. Instead of people talking about the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land as they had, now they will talk about returning to the Promised Land after the Exile. Thus, this passage assumes that the Exile will happen and come to an end. It is the living God, Yahweh, who brought them out of Egypt. So too, he will bring them back from the northern area and the other countries where they would have been driven into. They will once again have their own Promised Land, like their ancestors, to live in. In other words, there will be new Exodus.

The future good righteous king (Jer 23:5-23:6)

“Says Yahweh.

‘The days are surely coming,

When I will raise up for David

A righteous branch.

He shall reign as king.

He shall deal wisely.

He shall execute justice.

He shall execute righteousness

In the land.

In his days,

Judah will be saved.

Israel will live in safety.

This is the name

By which he will be called.

‘Lord is our righteousness.’”

Yahweh indicates, via Jeremiah, that a future Davidic king will rule in both Judah and Israel. This king would come from David’s righteous branch. As a king, he would rule wisely with justice and righteousness. Judah would be saved and Israel would be safe. The name of this future king would be “Lord of our righteousness.” Thus the future messianic Davidic king was important to the Israelites.

The future good shepherds (Jer 23:3-23:4)

“‘Then I myself

Will gather the remnant

Of my flock

Out of all the lands

Where I have driven them.

I will bring them back

To their fold.

They shall be fruitful.

They shall multiply.

I will raise up

Shepherds over them.

They will shepherd them.

They shall not fear any longer.

They shall not be dismayed.

None shall be missing.’

Says Yahweh.”

At some future time, Yahweh will gather the remnant of his flock from all the countries that they were driven into. He is going to bring them back into the fold where they will be fruitful and multiply. Moreover, he will then put good shepherd leaders over them. They will no longer fear or be dismayed. No one will be missing. Thus the future good times would have good leaders.

The bad shepherds (Jer 23:1-23:2)

“‘Woe to the shepherds

Who destroy

The sheep of my pasture!

Woe to the shepherds

Who scatter

The sheep of my pasture!’

Says Yahweh.

Therefore thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Concerning the shepherds

Who shepherd my people.

‘It is you

Who have scattered my flock.

You have driven them away.

You have not attended to them.

So I will attend to you

For your evil doings.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, condemns the bad shepherds or the bad leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. Yahweh blames them for destroying and scattering the sheep of his pasture, his people, the Israelites. There is no question in the mind of Yahweh that that it was these leaders who scattered and drove away his flock. They had not attended to them. Instead, they went on their evil ways. Now Yahweh will attend to their evil actions. This oracle of Yahweh is clearly pointing the blame on the leaders.

The curse on King Coniah (Jer 22:28-22:30)

“Is this man

King Coniah

A despised,

Broken pot?

Is he a vessel

That no one wants?

Why is he

With his children hurled out?

Why are they cast away

In a land that they do not know?

O land!

O land!

O land!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Record this man as childless!

He is a man

Who shall not succeed in his days.

None of his offspring

Shall succeed

In sitting on the throne of David,

Ruling again in Judah.’”

Yahweh was very opposed to King Coniah or King Jehoiachin or King Jeconiah (598 BCE), as he was called. King Coniah was the son of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). Why was he a despised broken pot? Why were he and his family thrown out of Judah? They were sent to a land that they did not know. Yahweh cried out to the land. King Coniah should be recorded as having no children, although he actually had children. He was not successful. None of his offspring would ever rule or sit on the throne of David, a pretty strong promise or curse. Thus this seems like the end of Davidic rule in Judah. He had favored the Egyptians, but now was sent to Babylon as a captive during the first captivity of 598 BCE.

The repulsion towards King Coniah (Jer 22:24-22:27)

“As I live,

Says Yahweh.

‘Even if King Coniah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

Were the signet ring

On my right hand,

I would tear you off.

I would give you

Into the hands of those

Who seek your life,

Into the hands of those

Of whom you are afraid,

Even into the hands

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

Into the hands of the Chaldeans.

I will hurl you

With the mother who bore you

Into another country,

Where you were not born.

There you shall die.

But they shall not return

To the land

To which they long to return.”

Apparently in 598 BCE, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim was killed. Thus his son King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who was 18 years old, took over for 3 months before he was taken away into the Babylonian captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar. His uncle, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) took over for him. King Coniah lived out his life in captivity in Babylon for at least 25 more years. Here Yahweh does not speak highly of him. Yahweh was willing to turn him over to his future captives, the Chaldeans and the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, even if he would have been king of Judah as the ring on his finger. Yahweh was going to throw him and his mother into captivity. There they would die in a country that they were not born in. Despite their desires, they would never return to Israel.

The Lebanon lamentation (Jer 22:20-22:23)

“Go up to Lebanon!

Cry out!

Lift up your voice

On Bashan!

Cry out

From Abarim!

All your lovers

Are crushed!

I spoke to you

In your prosperity.

But you said.

‘I will not listen.’

This has been your way

From your youth.

You have not obeyed

My voice.

The wind shall shepherd

All your shepherds.

Your lovers shall go

Into captivity.

Then you will be ashamed.

You will be dismayed

Because of all your wickedness.

O inhabitant of Lebanon!

Nested among the cedars!

How you will groan

When pangs come upon you!

You will have the pain

Of a woman in labor!”

Apparently, Jeremiah wanted the people in the high mountains of Lebanon, on the Bashan mountains in the south, as well as on the Abarim mountains in the north to cry out for their lost lovers. These would have been the various allies that they thought that they had, but were now all crushed. The prosperous people had not listened or obeyed Yahweh from their youth. Their shepherd leaders and their lover friends will all be sent into captivity, ashamed and dismayed because of their wickedness. The people of Lebanon, those living among the built cedars in the palace, will feel the pain of a woman in labor about to give birth.

No lamenting for King Jehoiakim (Jer 22:18-22:19)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh

Concerning King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.

‘They shall not lament for him.

Saying.

‘O my brother!’

Or

‘O sister!’

They shall not lament for him,

Saying.

‘O lord!’

Or

‘O his majesty!’

With the burial of a donkey,

He shall be buried.

He shall be dragged off.

He shall be thrown out

Beyond the gates of Jerusalem.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was very clear. No one should lament for King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) of Judah. Do not even mention he was a brother or a sister, or a majestic person. He should be given a burial like a donkey. They should drag him through the streets and throw him out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. He was to have an inglorious end. Obvious Yahweh, via Jeremiah did not like this king that was put on the throne by the Egyptians.

The comparison with his father (Jer 22:15-22:17)

“‘Are you a king

Because you compete in cedar?

Did not your father eat?

Did not your father drink?

Did not your father do justice?

Did not your father do righteousness?

Then it was well with him.

He judged the cause of the poor.

He judged the cause of the needy.

Then it was well.

Is not this to know me?’

Says Yahweh.

‘But your eyes

With your heart

Are only on your dishonest gain,

Are only for shedding innocent blood,

Are only for practicing oppression,

Are only for violence.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, takes on King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) by making a comparison with his father King Josiah (640-609 BCE). His father rightly judged the cases of the needy and the poor. He never tried to build a great house of cedar. He ate and drank, but was filled with justice and righteousness. Thus, everything went well with him. On the other hand, King Jehoiakim has turned his eyes and heart to dishonest gain, shedding innocent blood, practicing oppression, and doing violence. Which king would you rather have?