King Zedekiah learns of his imminent defeat (Jer 34:2-34:3)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

‘Go!

Speak to King Zedekiah

Of Judah!

Say to him!’

‘Thus says Yahweh!

I am going

To give this city

Into the hand

Of the king of Babylon.

He shall burn it

With fire.

You yourself

Shall not escape

From his hand.

But you shall surely

Be captured.

You shall be

Handed over to him.

You shall see

The king of Babylon

Eye to eye.

You shall speak

With him

Face to face.

You shall go

To Babylon.’”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, spoke directly to Jeremiah. Jeremiah was to go and tell King Zedekiah about the coming defeat of Jerusalem and his own personal fate. Yahweh told Jeremiah exactly what to say to the king. Yahweh was going to hand over the city of Jerusalem to the king of Babylon, who was then going to burn it down. As for King Zedekiah, he was not going to escape. He was going to be captured. Then he would be turned over to King Nebuchadnezzar. He would then see him eye to eye and speak to him face to face. He would be sent off to Babylon. This prophecy is much like the same prophecy that Jeremiah had given to King Zedekiah earlier in chapter 32.

King Zedekiah and the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer 32:3-32:5)

“King Zedekiah said.

‘Why do you prophesy?

Why do you say this?

Thus says Yahweh.

I am going to

Give this city

Into the hand

Of the king

Of Babylon,

He shall take it. King Zedekiah

Of Judah

Shall not escape

Out of the hand

Of the Chaldeans.

But he shall surely

Be given

Into the hands

Of the king

Of Babylon.

He shall speak

With him

Face to face.

He shall see him

Eye to eye. He shall take King Zedekiah

To Babylon.

There he shall remain

Until I attend to him.

Though you fight

Against the Chaldeans,

You shall not succeed

Says Yahweh.’”

King Zedekiah was upset at Jeremiah. He wanted to know why he was prophesying that Yahweh had told him that the Babylonians and Chaldeans would be successful. Why did he say that the city of Jerusalem would fall. That was a morale killer. Jeremiah prophesized that King Zedekiah would be captured and sent off to exile in Babylon. The king would get to see King Nebuchadnezzar face to face and eye to eye, since he was not going to be successful, despite the help from the Egyptians.

The restoration in Samaria (Jer 31:4-31:6)

“Again I will build you!

You shall be built!

O virgin Israel!

Again you shall take

Your tambourines!

You shall go forth

In the dance

Of the merrymakers!

Again you shall plant vineyards

On the mountains of Samaria.

The planters shall plant.

They shall enjoy the fruit.

There shall be a day

When sentinels will call

In the hill country

Of Ephraim.

‘Come!

Let us go up to Zion!

Let us go to Yahweh

Our God.’”

Yahweh was going to build up his virgin Israel again. Once again, they would have tambourines, merrymaking, and dancing. They would be able to plant vineyards on the Samarian mountains. Clearly, this was an outreach to the old northern Israelites who had been captured in 721 BCE. Their vineyard planters would enjoy the fruit of their crops. There would even come a day when the hill country of Ephraim, just north of Benjamin, would cry out that that they were going to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh, their God. In other words, the local places of worship in the north would be abandoned. They would all worship their one God, Yahweh. This was the wish of Yahweh, via Jeremiah.

Oracle against the valley of Hinnom (Isa 22:1-22:4)

“The oracle concerning the valley of Hinnom.

What do you mean

That you have gone up,

All of you,

To the housetops?

You who are full of shouting!

You are a tumultuous city!

You are an exultant town!

Your slain are not slain

By the sword!

Nor are they dead in battle!

Your rulers have fled together.

They were captured

Without the use of a bow.

All of you who were found

Were captured,

Though they had fled far away.

Therefore I said.

‘Look away from me!

Let me weep bitter tears!

Do not try to comfort me!

There is the destruction

Of my beloved people.’”

The valley of Hinnom, just south of the walls of Jerusalem, appears 11 times in the biblical writings. In the Christian biblical writings of the first century CE it is usually referred to as Gehenna with its almost eternal fire for the wicked ones. However, the context here is the terrible situation inside of Jerusalem. People were on the housetops shouting. They were dying, but not from the sword or in battles. The rulers had fled to escape, since they were captured by the Assyrians, either in 711 or 705 BCE. Then the oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, told the people to look away. He wanted to weep bitter tears over the destruction of his beloved people in Jerusalem.

Yahweh and the defeat of Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa 20:3-20:5)

“Yahweh said.

‘Just as my servant Isaiah

Has walked naked and barefoot

For three years,

As a sign against Egypt,

As a portent against Ethiopia,

So shall the king of Assyria

Lead away the Egyptians as captives.

The Ethiopians also will be exiles,

Both the young and the old,

The naked and the barefoot,

With buttocks uncovered,

To the shame of Egypt.

They shall be dismayed.

They shall be confounded

Because of Ethiopia,

Their hope,

As well as Egypt

Their boast.’”

Now we have the oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah had been naked for 3 years, as a sign against Egypt and Ethiopia. Now, the Assyrian king would capture Egypt and Ethiopia. They will be lead away as captives and exiles. No one will be saved. The young and the old will all be captured naked and barefooted. Thus the symbolism of Isaiah will actually happen to the Egyptians and Ethiopians as their naked butts will bring them shame. They will be dismayed and confused. Their hope and their boast about Egypt and Ethiopia will come to an end.

Warning for the Philistines (Isa 14:28-14:31)

“In the year that King Ahaz died

This oracle came.

‘Do not rejoice!

All you Philistines!

The rod that struck you is broken.

From the snake’s root

Will come forth an adder.

Its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.

The firstborn of the poor will graze.

The needy will lie down in safety.

But I will make your root

Die of famine.

Your remnant,

I will kill.

Wail!

O gate!

Cry!

O city!

Melt in fear!

O Philistia!

All of you!

Smoke comes out of the north.

There is no straggler in his ranks.’”

Next Isaiah turned to the coastal Philistines. This oracle has a specific time frame, the year that King Ahaz died, which would have been about 716 BCE. The Philistines had been a common enemy of the Israelites, especially during the time of King Saul and King David in 1 Samuel and I Chronicles. The Philistine southwestern coastal 5 cities had been captured by the Assyrians. Thus with the destruction of Assyria, they should be free. However, another foe from the north would come to attack them. Yahweh reminded them that a small adder snake can come from the fallen snake like a fiery flying serpent. Although it will seem okay because there will be food to eat and the needy will be safe, Yahweh was going to send them a famine to kill those left over. The Philistines would cry and wail. They would melt with fear because a great army from the north was coming. The Philistines actually seemed to disappear after the Assyrian takeover.

Slow to anger (Prov 16:31-16:33)

“Grey hair is a crown of glory.

It is gained in a righteous life.

Whoever is slow to anger

Is better than the mighty.

The one whose temper is controlled

Is better than one who captures a city.

The lot is cast into the lap.

But the decision is Yahweh’s alone.”

Grey was a crown of glory because you had to be righteous to live a long life. If you were slow to anger, you were stronger than the mighty ones. You were better than someone who captured a city. Finally, the lot that was chosen from the priestly ephod was really the decision of Yahweh alone. Thus casting lots was a way of putting the decision in God’s hands, not human hands.

Discovery of the Ark of the Covenant (Ps 132:6-132:7)

“We heard of the Ark in Ephrathah.

We found it in the fields of Jaar.

‘Let us go to his dwelling place.

Let us worship at his footstool!’”

David had heard of the Ark of the Covenant while he was in Ephrathah, which was Bethlehem, the home of David. However, the Ark was in Jaar, Kiriath-jearim. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel, chapters 6-7. David wanted to go there and worship at the foot of the Ark of the Covenant.

Yahweh was faithful to his covenant (Ps 106:44-106:46)

“Nevertheless Yahweh regarded their distress,

When he heard their cry.

For their sake,

He remembered his covenant.

He showed compassion

According to the abundance of his steadfast love.

He caused them to be pitied

By all those who held them captive.”

Despite the many incidents when Israel turned against their leaders and Yahweh himself, he always kept his covenant with them. Whenever they cried to Yahweh, he heard their cry. He remembered his covenant and showed compassion out of his abundant steadfast love. Even those who captured them had pity on them.

How to handle the Leviathan (Job 41:3-40:11)

“Will it make many supplications to you?

Will it speak soft words to you?

Will it make a covenant with you?

Will it be taken as your servant forever?

Will you play with it as with a bird?

Will you put it on a leash for your girls?

Will traders bargain over it?

Will they divide it up among the merchants?

Can you fill its skin with harpoons?

Can you fill its head with fishing spears?

Lay hands on it!

Think of the battle!

You will not do it again!

Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed.

The gods were even overwhelmed at the sight of it.

No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.

Who can stand before it?

Who can confront it?

Who can be safe?

Who?

No one under the whole heaven can confront it?”

Like the popular children’s movie series, How to Train a Dragon, how are you to handle this big sea monster? However, this is not a play thing. Yahweh asks who can confront this Leviathan. Will it pray softy for him? Will it make a treaty with him? Would you play with it or put it on a leash? Do the traders buy and sell it? Could you put spears and harpoons into it? Leviathan cannot be captured because even the gods are overwhelmed seeing it. No one under the heavens could confront it or stand up to it. The Leviathan was the original bully since it did whatever it wanted to do.