Drought and wild animals in Babylon (Jer 50:38-50:40)

“‘A drought

Against her waters!

Thus they may be dried up!

It is a land of images.

They go mad

Over idols.

Therefore,

Wild animals

Shall live

With hyenas

In Babylon.

Ostriches

Shall inhabit her.

She shall never again

Be inhabited

For all generations.

As when God overthrew

Sodom and

Gomorrah,

With their neighbors,

So no one

Shall live there.

No one

Shall settle there.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh was clear. He was going to make Babylon an abandoned desert. The waters of the land would dry up and leave a drought. It is hard to believe that he meant the Tigris River and the Euphrates River. He wanted their images and idols destroyed.   Thus wild animals, hyenas, and ostriches would live in Babylon. No humans would live or settle in Babylon. It would become like the ancient destroyed cites of Sodom and Gomorrah as in Genesis, chapter 19, a desolation.

The devastating cries from Moab (Jer 48:3-48:5)

“‘Hark!

A cry from Horonaim,

‘Desolation!

Great destruction!’

‘Moab is destroyed.’

Her little ones cry out!

At the ascent of Luhith

They go up weeping bitterly.

At the descent of Horonaim

They have heard

The distressing cry

Of anguish.”

Jeremiah explains that if you listen carefully, you can hear the cries from Horonaim or Horonan that may derive from the god Horon, a word for a cave or valley. These distressing cries of anguish spoke about desolation and destruction. This ascent of Luhith was also mentioned in Isaiah, chapter 15. It is clear that there was a lot of crying and weeping because of the destruction all around Moab.

They would not listen (Jer 44:4-44:6)

“Yet I persistently sent

To you

All my servants,

The prophets,

Saying,

‘I beg you not to do

This abominable thing

That I hate!’

But they did not listen

Or incline their ear.

They did not turn

From their wickedness.

They continued to make

Offerings to other gods.

So my wrath,

With my anger,

Was poured out.

I kindled a fire

In the towns of Judah

As well as in the streets of Jerusalem.

They became a waste.

They became a desolation,

As they still are today.”

Once again, Yahweh reminded these Judeans in Egypt that he had warned them, since he had persistently sent his prophet servants to tell them to stop doing those hated abominable things. However, they never listened to these prophets. They never turned away from their wicked ways of presenting offerings to other gods. Thus Yahweh, the God of Israel, got mad. He poured out his wrath on the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. They both became a waste and desolation, like they were today, at the time of this oracle.

The restoration of good fields (Jer 32:43-32:44)

“‘Fields shall be bought

In this land

Of which you are saying.

‘It is a desolation!

It is without humans!

It is without animals!

It has been given

Into the hands

Of the Chaldeans.’

Fields shall be bought

For money.

Deeds shall be signed,

Sealed,

As well as witnessed

In the land of Benjamin,

In the places about Jerusalem,

In the towns of Judah,

In the towns of the hill country,

In the towns of the Shephelah,

In the towns of the Negeb.

I will restore their fortunes.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh said, via Jeremiah, that the time of the desolation of the land was over. Fields were going to be bought and sold. It is not clear who owned some of these fields, since they might have changed hands a few times, since the beginning of the exile. However, the land was desolate, since there were no humans or animals on them after the Chaldeans took over. Who was going to sell this land? However, there would be a legal process. Money would exchange hands with deeds signed, sealed, and witnessed. The example of Jeremiah buying a field in the preceding chapter may be an example of how things would operate. Now this restoration would take place in the Benjamin territory, around the city of Jerusalem, and the towns of Judah. However, there are places mentioned, like the towns in the hill country of Judah, the Shephelah, the old Dan territory next to Benjamin, as well as the Negeb, the semi arid land southeast of Jerusalem near the Dead Sea. There was no mention of the northern territory from the old northern Israelite kingdom and their tribal territory.

Jeremiah speaks to the priests and the people (Jer 27:16-27:18)

“Then I spoke

To the priests,

To all this people,

Saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

Do not listen

To the words

Of your prophets

Who are prophesying to you!

Saying.

‘The vessels of Yahweh’s house

Will soon be brought back

From Babylon.’

They are prophesying

A lie to you.

Do not listen to them!

Serve the king of Babylon!

Live!

Why should this city

Become a desolation?

If indeed they are prophets,

If the word of Yahweh

Is with them,

Then let them

Intercede with Yahweh of hosts,

That the vessels

Left in the house of Yahweh,

In the house of the king of Judah,

In Jerusalem,

May not go to Babylon.’”

Jeremiah repeats what he said to the king of Judah earlier in this chapter. Now he speaks to the priests and all the people, as much as that is possible, but the message is the same. They were not to listen to the false lying prophets who were saying not to serve the King of Babylon. Here the question is about the vessels that had been taken to Babylon. Were they coming back? Once again, they were not to listen to these false prophets who were telling them to revolt against the Babylonian king. Rather, they should live and not become a desolation by serving the king of Babylon. If these were true prophets of Yahweh, why not let them intercede with Yahweh to make sure that the vessels left in the Temple, the palace of the king, and in Jerusalem itself not be taken to Babylon.

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 contamination of the hypocrites (Isa 59:5-59:8)

“The hypocrites hatch adders’ eggs.

They weave spider webs.

Whoever eats their eggs dies.

The crushed egg hatches out a viper.

Their webs cannot serve as clothing.

They cannot cover themselves

With what they make.

Their works are works of iniquity.

The deeds of violence

Are in their hands.

Their feet run to evil.

They rush to shed innocent blood.

Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity.

Desolation is in their highways.

Destruction is in their highways.

They do not know the way of peace.

There is no justice in their paths.

They have made their roads crooked.

No one who walks in them

Knows peace.”

Third Isaiah talks about the contamination among hypocrites in the Israelite community. Using the metaphor of eggs, they hatch adder eggs and have useless spider webs that can make no clothing. Some of these eggs produce vipers when broken. All their works are violent and full of iniquity. They run to evil, so that they can have innocent blood on their hands. They are always thinking about evil deeds and iniquity. Their roads are full of desolation and destruction, since they know nothing about peace and justice. They walk on crooked paths where no one else walks.

Desolation (Isa 34:11-34:12)

“But the hawk shall possess it.

The porcupine shall possess it.

The owl shall live in it.

The raven shall live in it.

He shall stretch the line of confusion over it.

The plummet of chaos shall be over its nobles.

They shall name it ‘No Kingdom There.’

Its princes shall be nothing.”

Isaiah continues with his description of the desolation of Edom. A variety of the vulture like animals and birds will live there, the hawk, the porcupine, the owl, and the raven. There will be confusion and chaos among the nobles and people there. The name of the country would become ‘No Kingdom There,’ obviously a mocking name. Their princes, or whatever is left of them, would be like nothing.