The judgment at the border (Ezek 11:10-11:12)

“You shall fall

By the sword.

I will judge you

At the border of Israel.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.

This city shall not

Be your pot.

You shall not

Be the meat inside it.

I will judge you

At the border of Israel.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.

You have not followed

My statutes.

You have not kept

My ordinances.

But you have acted

According to the ordinances

Of the nations

That are around you.”

Yahweh was going to judge them at the border of Israel. They would die by the sword if they were not captured. They all would know that he was Yahweh, since that was repeated twice in this short section. They would no longer be the meat in the pot in Jerusalem. The judgment at the border was because they had not followed and kept Yahweh’s statutes and ordinances. Instead, they had followed the ordinances of the countries around them. This seems strange but true.

The outside occupation of the land (Ezek 7:22-7:24)

“I will avert

My face

From them.

Thus they may profane

My treasured place.

The violent ones

Shall enter it.

They shall profane it.

Make a chain!

The land is

Full of bloody crimes.

The city is

Full of violence.

I will bring

The worst

Of the nations

To take possession

Of their houses.

I will put an end

To the arrogance

Of the strong.  

Their holy places

Shall be profaned.”

Outsiders will occupy Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to turn his face away from the inhabitants of the holy city. Thus these outsiders would profane the treasured places of Jerusalem. Violent wicked people would enter the holy city and desecrate it. The people of Jerusalem would be captured. They would be forced to make a chain, and to be put in chains. The land would be full of bloody crimes. The city would be full of violence. Yahweh was going to bring the worst of the nations to take possession of their houses. Yahweh was going to put an end to the arrogant and strong ones of the city, while their holy places would be profaned.

Patience (Bar 4:23-4:26)

“I sent you out

With sorrow,

With weeping.

But God will give you

Back to me

With joy,

With gladness forever.

As the neighbors of Zion

Have now seen

Your capture,

So they soon will see

Your salvation

By God.

This will come

To you

With great glory,

With the splendor

Of the Everlasting One.

My children,

Endure with patience

The wrath

That has come upon you

From God.

Your enemy

Has overtaken you.

But you will soon see

Their destruction.

You will tread

Upon their necks.

My pampered children

Have traveled rough roads.

They were taken away

Like a flock

Carried off

By the enemy.”

The personification of Jerusalem continued as this city advised her exiles to have patience. She had sent them out of town with sorrow and weeping. However, God was going to bring them back to Jerusalem with eternal joy and gladness. Zion’s neighbors had seen them captured. They would soon see these Israelites safely coming back with the glorious splendor of the Everlasting One, not Yahweh. Jerusalem wanted her pampered children to endure patiently the wrath of God that had come via their enemies. They would soon tread on the necks of their enemies since they would be destroyed. Even though they had traveled rough roads and were taken away like a flock of sheep, they needed patience.

The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

The anointed king (Lam 4:20-4:20)

Resh

“Yahweh’s anointed,

The breath

Of our life,

Was taken

In their pits.

This is the one

Of whom

We said.

‘Under his shadow

We shall live

Among the nations.’”

Using the first personal plural, they extol Yahweh’s anointed one, the king of Judah, King Zedekiah. He was the breath of their life, but he fell into a pit and was captured. They had agreed to live under his shadow, but now he was no more. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Resh in this acrostic poem.

The punishment of Babylon (Jer 50:18-50:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to punish

The king of Babylon

With his land,

Just as I punished

The king of Assyria.”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, was going to punish the king of Babylon and his country just as he had punished the king of Assyria and his country. The Assyrians had captured Israel in 724 BCE, while the Babylonians had captured Judah in 587 BCE. The Assyrian Empire fell apart in 599 BCE just as the Babylonian Empire was increasing, while the Babylonian Empire fell apart in 539 BCE.

Against the cities of Ammon (Jer 49:2-49:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming,

When I will sound

The battle alarm

Against Rabbah

Of the Ammonites.

It shall become

A desolate mound.

Its villages

Shall be burned

With fire.

Then Israel shall dispossess

Those who dispossessed him.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Wail!

O Heshbon!

Ai is laid waste!

Cry out!

O daughters of Rabbah!

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Slash yourselves

With whips!

Milcom shall go

Into exile,

With his priests,

With his attendants.’”

Yahweh spoke about the destruction of the major cities in Ammon. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon that would become a desolate mound with its various villages around it. They would be burned to the ground. Thus the dispossessed Israelites would be able to re-possess it. However, it is not the Israelites who are invading, but the Babylonians. Heshbon was the ancient city of King Sihon that had been captured by the Israelites. It was part of the Reuben territory and then Gad territory, since it was almost on the border between Moab and Ammon. The city of Ai was near Bethel in the Benjamin territory on the west side of the Jordan River. However, here this is another otherwise unknown city named Ai near Heshbon. All of these cities were going to lament their situation with mourning and sack cloth. Their god Milcom with his priests and attendants would also go into exile.

They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

Gedaliah is the governor of Judah (Jer 40:7-40:7)

“All the leaders

Of the forces

In the open country,

With their troops,

Heard

That the king of Babylon

Had appointed Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

Governor in the land.

The Babylonians had

Commanded that all the

Men,

Women,

With their children

Listen to Gedaliah.

These were

The poorest of the land

Who had not been taken

Into exile to Babylon.”

Now we see that many of the Judean country fighters were not all captured. Some of them were fighting in the hillsides or the open country, not in Jerusalem. Thus these leaders were not sure of what to do. They had heard that Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam from a prominent Jerusalem family, had been named governor by the king of Babylon, so that they seemed less afraid. The Babylonians had commanded that all the men, women, and children listen to Gedaliah. These were the poorest people of the land who had not been taken to Babylon in this Babylonian captivity.

The punishment for King Zedekiah (Jer 39:6-39:7)

“The king of Babylon

Slaughtered

The sons of King Zedekiah

At Riblah

Before his eyes.

Also the king of Babylon

Slaughtered

All the nobles of Judah.

He put out

The eyes of Zedekiah.

He bound him

In fetters.

He took him to Babylon.”

Once again, this is very similar to 2 Kings, chapter 25. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the sons of King Zedekiah be killed right in front of him. The king of Babylon then killed all the nobles or officials of Judah. Finally he blinded King Zedekiah, bound him up in chains, and took him to Babylon. He now lived as the captured blind ex-king in Babylon.