The fall of the Babylonian gods (Jer 50:2-50:2)

“Declare!

Among the nations!

Proclaim!

Set up a banner!

Proclaim!

Do not conceal it!

Say!

‘Babylon is taken!

Bel is put to shame!

Merodach is dismayed!

Her images are put to shame!

Her idols are dismayed!’”

This oracle of Yahweh says that Jeremiah should proclaim to the various nations and not conceal the fact that Babylon was taken. However, Jeremiah died in 582 BCE and Babylon was defeated in 539 BCE, over forty years after the death of Jeremiah. Previously, Jeremiah had been very favorable to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here he was told to set up a banner that said that Babylon with its false idol gods was put to shame and dismayed, especially two Babylonian gods, Bel and Merodach. Bel was another encompassing word for master or lord as some of the Hebrew words used about Yahweh. It also had some connection to Baal in the Mesopotamian area. Merodach or Marduk was the principal god or patron of the city of Babylon. Thus these two major Babylonian gods would be put to shame and dismayed. Much the same can be found in Isaiah, chapter 46.

Do not be afraid (Jer 46:27-46:28)

“‘As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

Do not be dismayed!

O Israel!

I am going to save you

From far away.

I will save your offspring

From the land

Of their captivity.

Jacob shall return.

They shall have quiet.

They shall have ease.

No one shall make them afraid.

As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

I am with you!

I will save you!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make an end

Of all the nations

Among whom

I have banished you.

But I will not make

An end of you.

I will chastise you

In just measure.

I will by no means

Leave you unpunished.’”

This passage is almost word for word like chapter 30: 11-12. Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.

Ephraim pleads to return (Jer 31:18-31:20)

“Indeed I heard

Ephraim pleading.

‘You disciplined me!

I took the discipline

Like an untrained calf.

Bring me back!

Let me come back!

You are Yahweh!

My God!

After I had turned away

I repented.

After I was discovered,

I struck my thigh.

I was ashamed.

I was dismayed.

Because I bore

The disgrace of my youth.’

‘Is Ephraim my dear son?

Is he the child I delight in?

As often as I speak

Against him,

I still remember him.

Therefore I am deeply moved

For him.

I will surely have mercy

On him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Here Jeremiah has Ephraim, the son of Joseph, whose territory was just north of Benjamin plead with Yahweh to let him return to the Promised Land. Samaria and Bethel were in this territory that was the capitol of the northern Israelites. Ephraim admitted that he needed discipline, like a young calf. He wanted to come back home. He had repented and struck his thigh, a sign of penance. He was ashamed and dismayed because of his disgraceful youth. Yahweh, on the other hand, seemed very happy to have him come back. Ephraim was his dear delightful child. Yahweh still remembered him, despite his diatribes against him. Yahweh was deeply moved and would have mercy on him. The northern Israelites can return to Israel.

Do not be afraid (Jer 30:10-30:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

Do not be dismayed!

O Israel!

I am going to save you

From far away.

I will save your offspring

From the land

Of their captivity.

Jacob shall return.

They shall have quiet.

They shall have ease.

No one shall make them afraid.

I am with you!

I will save you!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make an end

Of all the nations

Among whom

I have scattered you.

But of you,

I will not make an end.

I will chastise you

In just measure.

I will by no means

Leave you unpunished.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.

The future good shepherds (Jer 23:3-23:4)

“‘Then I myself

Will gather the remnant

Of my flock

Out of all the lands

Where I have driven them.

I will bring them back

To their fold.

They shall be fruitful.

They shall multiply.

I will raise up

Shepherds over them.

They will shepherd them.

They shall not fear any longer.

They shall not be dismayed.

None shall be missing.’

Says Yahweh.”

At some future time, Yahweh will gather the remnant of his flock from all the countries that they were driven into. He is going to bring them back into the fold where they will be fruitful and multiply. Moreover, he will then put good shepherd leaders over them. They will no longer fear or be dismayed. No one will be missing. Thus the future good times would have good leaders.

The Lebanon lamentation (Jer 22:20-22:23)

“Go up to Lebanon!

Cry out!

Lift up your voice

On Bashan!

Cry out

From Abarim!

All your lovers

Are crushed!

I spoke to you

In your prosperity.

But you said.

‘I will not listen.’

This has been your way

From your youth.

You have not obeyed

My voice.

The wind shall shepherd

All your shepherds.

Your lovers shall go

Into captivity.

Then you will be ashamed.

You will be dismayed

Because of all your wickedness.

O inhabitant of Lebanon!

Nested among the cedars!

How you will groan

When pangs come upon you!

You will have the pain

Of a woman in labor!”

Apparently, Jeremiah wanted the people in the high mountains of Lebanon, on the Bashan mountains in the south, as well as on the Abarim mountains in the north to cry out for their lost lovers. These would have been the various allies that they thought that they had, but were now all crushed. The prosperous people had not listened or obeyed Yahweh from their youth. Their shepherd leaders and their lover friends will all be sent into captivity, ashamed and dismayed because of their wickedness. The people of Lebanon, those living among the built cedars in the palace, will feel the pain of a woman in labor about to give birth.

Another personal lament of Jeremiah (Jer 17:14-17:18)

“Heal me!

Yahweh!

Then I shall be healed.

Save me!

Then I shall be saved.

You are my praise!

See how they say to me.

‘Where is the word of Yahweh?

Let it come!’

I have not run away

From being a shepherd

In your service.

I have not desired

The fatal day.

You know

What came from my lips.

It was before your face.

Do not become a terror to me!

You are my refuge

In the day of disaster.

Let my persecutors be shamed!

But do not let me be shamed!

Let them be dismayed!

But do not let me be dismayed!

Bring on them

The day of disaster!

Destroy them

With a double destruction!”

Jeremiah lamented about the fatal day of destruction. He wanted to be healed and saved by Yahweh because he praised him. He was taunted by others for his connection to Yahweh. However, he had not run away from being a shepherd or leader in the service of Yahweh. He had not desired this fatal day of destruction. Yahweh knew what he had said in front of him. He did not want Yahweh to scare him on this future fatal day. Instead, he wanted his persecutors to be ashamed and dismayed, but not him. He wanted to bring on this fatal day to them with a double dose of destruction.