The destruction of Jerusalem (Jer 52:13-52:14)

“Nebuzaradan burned

The house of Yahweh

As well as the king’s house.

He also burned

All the houses of Jerusalem.

He burned down

Every great house.

All the army

Of the Chaldeans,

Who were with

The captain of the guard,

Broke down

All the walls

Around Jerusalem.”

This is exactly word for word like 2 Kings, chapter 25, but slightly different than the earlier chapter 39 description of Jeremiah. There was no mention about the burning of the Temple in the earlier Jeremiah description. Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard of the Babylonian king, had his Chaldean fighters burn the Temple of Yahweh and the palace of the king, as well as all the great houses of Jerusalem. They also broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.

Against Kedar (Jer 49:28-49:29)

“Concerning Kedar

With the kingdoms of Hazor

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Defeated.

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Rise up!

Advance against Kedar!

Destroy the people of the east!

Take their tents!

Take their flocks!

Take their curtains!

Take all their goods!

Carry off their camels

For yourselves!

A cry shall go up.

‘Terror is all around!’”

Kedar was the second son of Ishmael, the step brother of Isaac. However, this biblical term was applied to a group of nomadic tribes in the northwest Arabian desert, east of the Jordan River and Ammon, in what is today Saudi Arabia. They were considered to be the people of the east, the Arabs. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was going to defeat them. He was going to take their possessions since they had no buildings to burn. They were going to lose their tents, flocks, curtains, and most importantly their camels. They would cry out that terror was all around them. They had no fortresses to defend themselves. Both Kedar and Hazor were not restored, but left as wastelands.

Jeremiah is sent to Gedaliah (Jer 39:13-39:14)

“So Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Nebu-shazban the Rabsaris,

Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag,

With all the chief officers

Of the king of Babylon

Sent for Jeremiah.

They took him

From the court of the guard.

They entrusted him

To Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

They brought him home.

So he stayed

With his own people.”

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, and presumably the man in charge on the ground in Jerusalem, gathered the other Babylonian officials together. Two are named here. One is the same as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, Nergal-sharezer the Rabmag, who was in charge of the Assyrian priests or religious element of Babylon. On the other hand, Nebu-shazban the Rabsaris has the same title as Sarsechim, Rabsaris, earlier in this chapter. The Rabsaris was in charge of the eunuchs, but the name is different here. Are they the same people with different names or two different people? Anyway, they take Jeremiah from the royal prison, presumably before they burn the royal palace down. They hand him over to Gedaliah. His father and grandfather, Ahikam and Shaphan had been loyal to the various prophets. Shaphan went back to the days of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) and his religious reform. Ahikam had protected Jeremiah during the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) as in chapter 26 of this book. His brother Gemariah had helped Jeremiah in chapter 36. Thus Ahikam’s son Gedaliah seemed like the right person to protect Jeremiah.

The choice (Jer 38:18-38:20)

“‘However,

If you do not surrender

To the officials

Of the king of Babylon,

Then this city

Shall be handed over                                                          

To the Chaldeans.

They shall burn it

With fire.

You yourself

Shall not escape

From their hand.’

King Zedekiah said

To Jeremiah.

‘I am afraid

Of the Judeans

Who have deserted

To the Chaldeans.

I might be handed over

To them.

They would abuse me.’

Jeremiah said.

‘That will not happen.

Just obey

The voice of Yahweh

In what I say to you.

It shall go well

With you.

Your life shall be spared.’”

Jeremiah reminded King Zedekiah that if he did not surrender to the Babylonians, the Chaldeans would capture the city of Jerusalem and burn it. The king would not escape from them either. However, the king was afraid that some of the Judeans had gone over to the Chaldeans. They might want to attack him if he surrendered. Once again, Jeremiah reassured him. He said that Yahweh would not let that happen. Everything would go well with him, if he surrendered. However, if he was captured after a battle, all bets were off.

The return of the Chaldeans (Jer 37:8-37:10)

“‘The Chaldeans

Shall return.

They shall fight

Against this city.

They shall take it.

They shall burn it

With fire.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Do not deceive yourselves!

Saying.

‘The Chaldeans will surely

Go away from us.’

They will not go away.

Even if you defeated

The whole army of Chaldeans

Who are fighting

Against you,

The remaining wounded men,

In their tents,

Would rise up.

They would burn this city

With fire.’”

Jeremiah reminded his two visitors that the Babylonian Chaldeans would return to fight against Jerusalem. In fact, they were going to capture the city and burn it. They should not be deceived, thinking that the Chaldeans have left for good. Even if they defeated the whole Chaldean army, the remaining wounded men would still be able to burn the city down.

The new scroll (Jer 36:28-36:29)

“Take another scroll!

Write on it

All the former words

That were in the first scroll

That King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

Has burned.

Concerning King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

You shall say.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

You have dared

To burn this scroll!

Saying!

‘Why have you written in it

That the king of Babylon

Will certainly come?

Why have you written in it

That he will destroy

This land?

Why have you written in it

That he will cut off

Human beings

With animals from it?’”

Yahweh then told Jeremiah to take a new scroll and rewrite the same thing again that Baruch had written earlier. Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to ask the king himself why he dared to burn this scroll. Obviously, the king of Judah was upset because the scroll said that the king of Babylon was going to come and destroy the land of Judah with all the humans and animals in it.

The destruction of Jerusalem (Jer 21:10-21:10)

“Says Yahweh.

‘I have set my face

Against this city.

For evil!

Not for good!

It shall be given

Into the hands

Of the king

Of Babylon.

He shall burn it with fire.’”

There is no choice for the city of Jerusalem. Yahweh has set his face against this city. It is evil, not good. Therefore it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon. He would then burn it down.

The power of Yahweh’s name (Jer 17:3-17:4)

“Your wealth,

With all your treasures

I will give for spoil

As the price of your sins

Throughout all your territory.

By your own act

You shall lose the heritage

That I gave you.

I will make you

Serve your enemies

In a land that you do not know.

In my anger,

A fire is kindled

That shall burn forever.”

Here we have a repeat of what was said in chapter 15 with the last verse exactly word for word. Yahweh would not relent. He was going to give away the wealth and treasure of the whole country as plunder. This was the price they had to pay for their sins. Thus they would serve their former enemies in a foreign land. Yahweh’s anger has been kindled and would burn forever. There was no turning back.

The punishing judgment of Yahweh (Jer 15:13-15:14)

“I will give as plunder

Your wealth,

With your treasures,

Without a price,

Throughout all your territory.

For all your sins,

I will make you

Serve your enemies

In a land that you do not know.

In my anger

A fire is kindled

That shall burn forever.”

Yahweh will not relent. He was going to freely give away the wealth and treasure of the whole country as plunder. Due to their sins, they would serve their former enemies in a foreign land. Yahweh’s anger has been kindled and will burn forever. There is no turning back.

They provoke Yahweh’s anger (Jer 7:17-7:20)

“‘Do you not see

What they are doing

In the towns of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem?

The children gather wood.

The fathers kindle fire.

The women knead dough.

They make cakes

For the queen of heaven.

They pour out drink offerings

To other gods.

They provoke me to anger.

Is it I whom they provoke?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Is it not themselves?

Do they not hurt themselves?’

Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘My anger shall be poured out

On this place.

My wrath will be poured out

On this place.

It will be poured out

On human beings,

On animals,

On the trees of the field,

On the fruit of the ground.

It will burn.

It will not be quenched.’”

Yahweh pointed out, via Jeremiah, what the people in the towns of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem were doing. The children gathered wood, while their fathers started fires. The women made cakes for the queen of heaven that was the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, or the Canaanite goddess Astarte, the goddess of Venice. They prepared their drink offerings for these gods. Yahweh was provoked to anger and wrath by these actions. Thus Yahweh was going to pour out his anger on all the people, animals, trees, and fruit in Judah and Jerusalem. They would all burn and be consumed with this fire.