The Chaldeans take Jerusalem (Jer 32:26-32:29)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.

‘See!

I am Yahweh!

The God of all flesh!

Is anything too hard for me?’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I am going to give this city

Into the hands of the Chaldeans.

I am going to give this city

Into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

He shall take it.

The Chaldeans,

Who are fighting against this city,

Shall come.

They will set this city on fire.

They will burn it.

They will burn the houses

On whose roofs

Offerings were made

To Baal,

Where libations

Have been poured out

To other gods.

They did these sacrifices

To provoke me to anger.’”

Yahweh once again has an oracle for Jeremiah. Yahweh was the God of all flesh. There was nothing too hard for him. He was going to give Jerusalem over to the Chaldeans who were fighting there. He was going to hand the city over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Babylonians and the Chaldeans were going to set the city on fire and burn it down. Thus the houses with the roof tops that had made offerings to Baal or libations to the other gods would be destroyed. These Israelites had offered these sacrifices to provoke Yahweh to anger. They had succeeded.

Comparisons to other evil people (Jer 23:13-23:14)

“In the prophets of Samaria,

I saw a disgusting thing.

They prophesied by Baal.

They led my people Israel astray.

But in the prophets of Jerusalem,

I have seen a more shocking thing.

They commit adultery.

They walk in lies.

They strengthen

The hands of evildoers.

Thus no one turns from wickedness.

All of them have become

Like Sodom to me.

Its inhabitants are

Like Gomorrah.”

Yahweh makes a comparison between the evil prophets of Jerusalem with the false prophets of Samaria as well as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no doubt that the false prophets of Samaria worshipped and prophesized by Baal. Thus they led the Israelites astray by these disgusting practices. However, the prophets of Jerusalem have done a more shocking thing. They committed adultery and walked in lies. Thus they strengthened the hands of the evil doers. Thus, no one turned away from wickedness. They became like the famous sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in Genesis, chapter 19.

The high places of Baal (Jer 19:5-19:5)

“They have built

The high places of Baal.

There they burn their children

In the fire,

As burnt offerings to Baal.

I did not command this.

I did not decree this.

It did not enter my mind.”

Interesting enough, this is like chapter 7 of this work, but there was no specific mention of Baal there. However, the idea of burning children was explicitly mentioned. In fact, Yahweh also said that he had not commanded or decreed these human child sacrifices. It never entered his mind.

The judgment on the neighbors (Jer 12:14-12:17)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning all my evil neighbors

Who touch the heritage

That I have given

My people Israel to inherit.

‘I am about to pluck them up

From their land.

I will pluck up

The house of Judah

from among them.

After I have plucked them up,

I will again have compassion on them.

I will bring them again

To their heritage,

To their land.

Then if they will diligently learn

The ways of my people,

To swear by my name,

‘As Yahweh lives!’

As they taught my people

To swear by Baal,

Then they shall be built up

In the midst of my people.

But if any nation will not listen,

Then I will completely uproot it.

I will destroy it.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh gave a warning to the evil neighbors of Judah. They were not to touch the inherited land of the Israelite people, despite his anger at them. He was going to pluck up the people of Judah from their land. However, he was going to later have compassion on them, since he was going to bring all of them back to their land and their heritage. This would happen after they had learned the ways of Yahweh, just as they learned the evil ways of Baal. They had to swear by the living God, Yahweh. They would be built up among his people. However, if any nation did not listen, then Yahweh would then uproot and destroy them also. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Jeremiah, that showed his compassion for Judah, despite everything.

Reproach against false worshippers in the Temple (Jer 11:15-11:17)

“What right has my beloved

In my house?

She has done vile deeds.

Can vows

Avert your doom?

Can sacrificial flesh

Avert your doom?

Can you then exult?

Yahweh once called you,

‘A green olive tree,

Fair with goodly fruit.’

But with the roar of a great tempest,

He will set fire to it.

Its branches will be consumed.

Yahweh of hosts

Planted you.

He has pronounced evil

Against you.

Because the evil

That the house of Israel has done,

That the house of Judah has done,

Has provoked me to anger.

Because you have been making offerings

To Baal.”

What are the rights of Yahweh’s beloved in his house, the Temple? This is especially so, since they have done such vile deeds. Can their vows and their meat sacrifices avert their coming doom? Israel was once a good fruitful fair green olive tree. However, with the blast of a storm, Yahweh would consume them with fire and destroy them. Yahweh planted them, but now he has pronounced evil against them. They, both the house of Judah and the house of Israel, have done evil provoking Yahweh to anger with their offerings to Baal.

The numerous useless false idol gods (Jer 11:12-11:13)

“Then the cities of Judah,

The inhabitants of Jerusalem,

Both will go out.

They will cry out to the gods

To whom they make offerings.

But these gods will never save them

In the time of their troubles.

Your gods have become

As many as your towns.

O Judah!

Your gods have become

As many as the streets of Jerusalem.

These altars

That you have set up

Shame you.

These altars make offerings to Baal.”

Then Yahweh continues to call our Jerusalem and Judah for their behavior. They have cried out to their gods and made offerings to them. However, Yahweh reminds them that these gods will never save them in their times of trouble. They appear to have as many gods as there are towns in Judah. Each town seems to have its own god. The same is true of Jerusalem, where practically every street has its own god. These are the altars that shame them, since they made offerings to Baal, the Canaanite god, on these altars.

Yahweh explains why he is doing this (Jer 9:13-9:14)

“Yahweh says.

‘They have forsaken my law

That I set before them.

They have not obeyed my voice.

They have not walked in accordance with it.

But they have stubbornly followed

Their own hearts.

They have gone after the Baals,

As their ancestors taught them.”

Yahweh explains why this punishment was about to take place. They simply have forsaken the law of Yahweh that he set before them. They have not obeyed his voice. They have not walked according to his ways. They have stubbornly followed their own hearts. They went to the pagan idol gods of Baal, like their ancestors. Yahweh clearly explained his reasoning.

Topheth (Jer 7:31-7:34)

“‘They go on building

The high place of Topheth.

That is in the valley of the son of Hinnom.

They burn their sons in the fire.

They burn their daughters in the fire.

I did not command this.

It did not come into my mind.

Thus the days are surely coming.’

Says Yahweh.

‘It will no more be called Topheth.

It will no more be called

The valley of the son of Hinnom.

But it will be called

The valley of Slaughter.

They will bury in Topheth,

Until there is no room.

The corpses of this people

Will be food

For the birds of the air,

For the animals of the earth.

No one will frighten them away.

I will bring to an end

The sound of mirth with gladness.

I will bring to an end

The voice of the bridegroom

From the cities of Judah.

I will bring to an end

The voice of the bride

From the streets of Jerusalem.

The land shall become a waste.’”

Topheth was a place in Jerusalem where the ancient Canaanites worshipped. Human sacrifices and children were offered to the god Moloch or Baal by burning them alive. It was in the Gehinnom area that later became Gehenna or even a symbol for hell itself. It may have been a place for the burning of rubbish, although there is no archeological evidence of this. King Josiah (640-609 BCE) in his religious reform may have ended the practice of sacrificing and burning children. However, Yahweh says that he never commanded or thought about this sacrificing of children. Thus this Topheth would not exist any longer, because it will become known for dead bodies after slaughters, where the birds and animals would feed on them. There will be no more mirth or gladness for the bride or bridegroom in the cities of Judah or on the streets of Jerusalem.

The ingratitude of their ancestors (Jer 2:5-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘What wrong did your ancestors

Find in me?

They went far from me.

They went after worthless things.

They became worthless themselves.

They did not say.

‘Where is Yahweh?

He brought us up

From the land of Egypt.

He led us in the wilderness.

He led us in a land of deserts.

He led us in a land of pits.

He led us in a land of drought.

He led us in a land of deep darkness.

He led us in a land that no one passes through.

He led us in a land where no man dwells.’

I brought you into a plentiful land.

I brought you to eat its fruits.

I brought you to eat its good things.

But when you entered,

You defiled my land.

You made my heritage an abomination.

The priests did not say.

‘Where is Yahweh?’

Those who handle the law

Did not know me.

The rulers transgressed against me.

The prophets prophesied by Baal.

They went after things that do not profit.”

Jeremiah has Yahweh complain about their ancestors. Why did they go far from Yahweh, going after worthless things, so that they themselves became worthless? They seem to have forgotten that Yahweh led them out of Egypt through the desert wilderness with its pits, drought, and darkness. Very few people were able to make it through the lifeless wilderness. He brought them into a wonderful plentiful land that had many fruits to eat. However, as soon as they entered the land, they defiled it and made his heritage an abomination. The priests did not know Yahweh and follow his laws. The rulers transgressed the laws of Yahweh. The prophets used prophecies by the pagan gods of Baal. They all went after unprofitable and unproductive things.

Solomon’s vineyard (Song 8:11-8:12)

Female lover

“Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon.

He entrusted the vineyard to keepers.

Each one was to bring for its fruit

A thousand pieces of silver.

My vineyard,

My very own,

Is for myself.

You!

O Solomon!

May have the thousand.

The keepers of the fruit

May have two hundred.”

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon. This is the only mention of Baal-hamon, but it may have been an ancient worship place of Baal with that name. He obviously had vineyard workers. Each of the keepers of the vineyard had to bring 1,000 pieces of silver to get the fruit of the vine. This female lover said that she had a vineyard of her own also. She was going to let Solomon keep his 1,000 pieces of silver. However, she was going to give the keepers of the vineyard 200 pieces of silver. This vineyard might have been part of a dowry for the bride.