The seven-month search and burial (Ezek 39:12-39:16)

“‘The house of Israel

Shall spend

Seven months

Burying them,

In order to cleanse

The land.

All the people

Of the land

Shall bury them.

It will bring them honor

On the day

That I show my glory.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They will set apart men

To pass through

The land continually.

They will bury

Any invaders who remain

On the face of the land.

It will then be cleansed.

They will make their search.

For seven months.

As the searchers

Pass through the land,

Anyone who sees

A human bone

Shall set up

A sign by it,

Until the buriers

Have buried it

In the Valley of Hamon-gog.

A city Hamonah

Is there also.

Thus,

They shall cleanse

The land.”

The house of Israel was to spend 7 months burying the men with Gog, so that they could cleanse the land of Israel and its people. These grave diggers would gain honor on the day when Yahweh was going to show his glory. These body searchers would be set apart to pass through the land continually. They would bury any remains they found. Anyone who saw a human bone was to set up a sign by it, until these buriers buried them in the Valley of Hamon-gog or the city Hamonah, next to it. Thus, the land would be cleansed by removing these dead bodies in 7 months.

The burial of Gog and his troops (Ezek 39:11-39:11)

“On that day,

I will give to Gog

A place for burial

In Israel,

The Valley

Of the Travelers,

East of the sea.

It shall block

The path

Of travelers.

There,

Gog

With all his troops

Will be buried.

It will be called

The Valley of Hamon-gog.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, explained that Gog would be buried on the east side of the Jordan River in the Valley of the Travelers, which apparently was near Dibon, in Moab. This area had been part of the old Gad territory, apparently a well-traveled route. Many people would see it and have to walk around it. Gog was to be buried there with all his troops and people, so that it would become known as the Valley of Hamon-gog, that literally means Gog and his multitude.

The sea dragon in the wilderness (Ezek 29:5-29:7)

“I will fling you

Into the wilderness.

You!

With all the fish

Of your channels!

You shall fall

In the open field!

You will not be gathered.

You will not be buried.

I have given you

As food

To the animals

Of the earth,

To the birds

Of the air.

Then all the inhabitants

Of Egypt

Shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Because they were

A staff of the reed

To the house of Israel.

When they grasped you

With the hand,

You broke down.

You tore

All their shoulders.

When they leaned

On you,

You broke down.

You made

All their legs

Unsteady.”

Yahweh was going to fling this sea dragon of Pharaoh, with all his fish in the Nile River channels, into the wilderness. They would then fall into an open field, where they would not be gathered or buried. The animals of the earth and the birds of the air would then eat them as food as they lay in the open fields. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt would know that Yahweh was God. They were like a reed to the house of Israel. When they grasped this dragon and his fish with their hands, they broke down. They tore all their shoulders when they leaned on these fish. Their legs became unsteady.

Rachel laments her children (Jer 31:15-31:17)

“Thus says Yahweh.       

‘A voice is heard in Ramah.

There is lamentation.

There is bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping

For her children.

She refuses to be comforted

For her children.

Because they are no more.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Keep your voice

From weeping!

Keep your eyes

From tears!

There is a reward

For your work.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They shall come back

From the land of the enemy.

There is hope for your future.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Your children shall come back

To their own country.’”

Jeremiah seems to have a dialogue with Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, and Yahweh. Rachel has been dead and buried for a long time at Ramah, during the time of Jacob as in Genesis, chapter 35. However, there the resting place was called Bethlehem. Here it is Ramah, someplace in Benjamin that makes more sense. The prophet Samuel may have lived in this place as in 1 Samuel, chapter 25. However, here Rachel is lamenting from her grave. She is weeping bitterly for her lost children. She refuses to be comforted because they too are dead and gone. This passage had an influence on the later Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, where he used this saying to apply to the innocent children killed by Herod. However, Yahweh tells her to stop weeping and dry her tears, because she was going to be rewarded. The descendants of her children were going to come back to their country from the land of their enemies. Thus the northern tribes would be restored.

Universal death (Jer 25:33-25:33)

“Those slain

By Yahweh

On that day

Shall extend

From one end of the earth

To the other.

They shall not be lamented.

They shall not be gathered.

They shall not be buried.

They shall become dung

On the surface of the ground.”

There will be a lot of people killed on that day. They will lay all over the earth from one end to another. This last part is similar to chapter 8 of this work, where people would not be gathered or buried, but rather scattered on the ground like dung. There would be just too many dead people with not enough people alive to take care of them.

The future captivity of Pashhur and his friends (Jer 20:4-20:6)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘I am making you a terror

To yourself,

To all your friends.

They shall fall

By the sword of their enemies

While you look on.

I will give all Judah

Into the hand

Of the king of Babylon.

He shall carry them captive

To Babylon.

He shall kill them

With the sword.

I will give

All the wealth of the city,

All its gains,

All its prized belongings,

All the treasures of the kings of Judah

Into the hand of their enemies.

They shall plunder them.

They shall seize them.

They shall carry them to Babylon.

You!

Pashhur!

With all who dwell in your house,

Shall go into captivity.

You shall go to Babylon.

There you shall die.

There you shall be buried!

You!

With all your friends,

To whom you have prophesied falsely.’”

Jeremiah then uttered a destructive oracle of Yahweh to Pashhur, his friends, as well as the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Pashhur would be a terror to himself and his friends. All his friends would die by their enemy’s swords as he looked on. Judah would be handed over to Babylon as they would be brought into captivity, where they would die. The Babylonians were going to take all the wealth from the city of Jerusalem with all its prized possessions, along with all the treasures of Judah. Their enemies would plunder them and carry them off to Babylon. Pashhur with his whole household would be brought into captivity where they would all die and be buried. All of this would take place to Pashhur, his friends, and those to whom he falsely prophesized. There would not be a happy ending to this story. He crossed Jeremiah one too many times.

No funeral rites or burial (Jer 16:5-16:7)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Do not enter

The house of mourning!

Do not go to lament!

Do not bemoan them!

I have taken away

My peace

From this people.

I have taken away

My steadfast love.

I have taken away

My mercy.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Both great as well as small

Shall die in this land.

They shall not be buried.

No one shall lament for them.

There shall be no gashing.

There shall be no shaving of the head for them.

No one shall break bread

For the mourner.

No one shall offer

Comfort for the dead.

No one shall give them

The cup of consolation to drink

For their fathers,

Nor for their mothers.’”

Yahweh was clear to Jeremiah. He was not to enter anyplace where mourning was going on. Jeremiah was not to lament or bemoan anyone. Yahweh had taken away his peace, love, and mercy from his people. He warned that everyone, whether they were important or not, would all die in this land of desolation. However, they were not to be buried. No one should lament for them. They were not to be involved with the traditional funeral rites of cutting oneself or gashing, as well as shaving one’s head. No one should eat with them. They should not drink from the cup of consolation, even if it is their father or mother.

The bones of the dead people (Jer 8:1-8:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘At that time,

The bones of the kings of Judah,

The bones of its officials,

The bones of the priests,

The bones of the prophets,

The bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem

Shall be brought out of their tombs.

They shall be spread

Before the sun,

Before the moon,

Before all the host of heaven.

They have loved these heavenly bodies.

They have served them.

They have followed them.

They have inquired after them.

They have worshiped them.

Their bones shall not be gathered.

Their bones shall not be buried.

They shall be

Like dung

On the surface of the ground.

Death shall be preferred

To life

By all the remnant

That remains of this evil family

In all the places

Where I have driven them.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, speaks in ironic terms about the bones of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The bones of all the people, whether they were the kings, the officials, the priests, the prophets, or the inhabitants of Jerusalem, would be brought out their tombs. These bones would be spread out before the sun, the moon, and the hosts of heavens. They had followed, loved, served, and worshiped these heavenly bodies. Thus their bones would not be buried, but rather scattered on the ground like dung. People would prefer death over life. This also refers to all the remaining people of this evil family, no matter where they have been driven to. Thus Yahweh has spoken about the disgrace of the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

The satirical questions to the king (Isa 14:16-14:19)

“Those who see you

Will stare at you.

They will ponder over you.

‘Is this the man

Who made the earth tremble?

Is this the man

Who shook kingdoms?

Is this the man

Who made the world

Like a desert?

Is this the man

Who overthrew its cities?

Is this the man

Who would not let his prisoners go home?’

All the kings of the nations

Lie in glory,

Each in their own tomb.

But you are cast out.

You are away from your grave,

Like loathsome carrion.

You are clothed with the dead,

Those pierced by the sword.

You go down to the stones of the Pit,

Like a corpse trampled underfoot.”

Isaiah then has his companions ask this king a series of satirical questions. They were staring at this king as they thought about him. He had made the earth tremble. He had shook up kingdoms. He had made the world a desert. He had overthrown cities. He had never let prisoners go. But look at him now! Is this the same man? Most kings are buried in their own tombs. However, he was cast out of his grave so that he became rotten flesh for birds to eat. He was pierced by the sword so that he was not in a grave, but in a pit, so that his corpse was trampled on as people walked by.

Joseph (Sir 49:15-49:15)

“Nor was anyone born

Like Joseph,

The leader of his brothers,

The support of the people.

Even his bones

Were cared for.”

Sirach gives Joseph only one verse, as he seems to have an odd spot here. The story of Joseph and his activity in Egypt can be found in 13 chapters of Genesis, 37-50. Although abandoned by his brothers, he turns out to be their leader and the support of his people. He wanted his bones returned to Canaan, but they were buried in an Egyptian tomb until Moses took them in Exodus, chapter 13. They were finally buried at Shechem in Joshua, chapter 24. Two of his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, make up part of the 12 territorial tribes since Levi did not get any territory.