Yahweh explains the allegory (Ezek 17:11-17:14)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Say now

To the rebellious house!

Do you not know

What these things mean?

Tell them!

The king of Babylon

Came to Jerusalem.

He took its king.

He took its officials.

He brought them

Back with him

To Babylon.

He took

One of the royal offspring.

He made a covenant

With him.

He put him

Under oath.

He had taken away

The chief men

Of the land.

Thus the kingdom

Might be humble.

The kingdom might not

Lift itself up.

By keeping

His covenant,

It might stand.’’’

Ezekiel had another oracle from Yahweh that explained the first eagle allegory or riddle. Obviously the rebellious house of Judah did not understand it. Thus Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was going to explain it to them. The first eagle was the king of Babylon who came to Jerusalem. He took its king and officials back with him to Babylon. Then he took one of the Judean royal offspring and made an agreement with him. This new king swore an oath of allegiance to the King of Babylon. The first king that was uprooted was King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE), while the new king was King Zedekiah (598-587). Thus the kingdom of Judah would be humbled and not be able to lift itself up. It would be allowed to exist, if it kept the agreement with the King of Babylon.

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Breaking the covenant agreement (Jer 34:17-34:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh!

‘You have not obeyed me

By granting a release

To your neighbors,

As well as to your friends.

I am going to

Grant a release to you,

A release to the sword,

A release to pestilence,

A release to famine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make you a horror

To all the kingdoms

Of the earth.

Those who transgressed

My covenant,

Those who did not

Keep the terms

Of the covenant

That they made before me,

I will make them

Like the calf

When they cut it in two.

As they passed

Between its parts.’”

The people of Jerusalem had not obeyed Yahweh about freeing up their Hebrew slaves. Now Yahweh was going to free them to the sword, pestilence, and famine, the common formula of Jeremiah for destruction. They would become a horror for all the countries in the world. They had broken their covenant with Yahweh. They had not kept the terms of the covenant agreement, since they had re-enslaved the freed Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. The ancient practice of cutting or sacrificing an animal into two pieces was a way of ratifying an agreement, as can be seen in Genesis, chapter 15. Then the two people would walk between the two pieces of the calf to indicate that if they broke the agreement, they too would be killed. Thus these disobedient ones who broke the covenant were subject to death, just as the calf had been killed and cut up.

The rebellion (Jer 18:12-18:12)

“But they say.

‘It is no use!

We will follow our own plans.

Each of us will act

According to the stubbornness

Of our own evil way.’”

Jeremiah presents the clear and precise response of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. It was useless to talk anymore. They were going to follow their own rebellious plans. Each one would act stubbornly according to their own evil ways. There was no pretence of trying to reach an agreement. The die was cast.