Nature obeys (Bar 6:60-6:65)

“The sun,

The moon,

The stars

Are bright.

When sent

To do a service,

They are obedient.

So also the lightning.

When it flashes,

It is widely seen.

The wind likewise blows

In every land.

When God commands

The clouds to go

Over the whole world,

They carry out

His command.

The fire sent from above

To consume mountains

Or woods

Does what it is ordered.

But these idols

Are not to be

Compared with them

In appearance

Or power.

Therefore anyone

Must not think

That they are gods.

They are not called gods.

They are not able

Either to decide a case

Or to do good to anyone.

Since you know then

That they are not gods,

Do not fear them!”

This author notes that the sun, the moon, and the stars are bright. However, they do what they are told to do. The same is true about lightning flashes and the wind. It blows wherever God commands it. The clouds go all over the whole world as they carry out God’s commands also. Fire does what it is ordered to do. How can you compare these great works of obedient nature to these false idol gods, since they have no power. They cannot solve cases or do good for any humans. How can you call them gods, since you know that they are not gods? Thus there is no need to fear them.

Like a funeral (Bar 6:31-6:32)

“In these temples

Of false gods,

The priests sit

With their clothes

Torn.

Their heads

Are shaved.

Their beards

Are shaved.

Their heads

Are uncovered.

They howl.

They shout

Before their gods

As some do

At a funeral banquet.”

The priests of these false idol gods sit in the temples with their clothes torn, as if in mourning. They have their heads and beards shaven with nothing to cover their heads. The Israelite and Judean priests always covered their heads, and they normally did not shave their beards. These priests of the false gods, on the other hand, howled and shouted before the images of their gods. They acted like they were at a funeral meal for their dying gods.

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.

Cut your hair off (Jer 7:29-7:30)

“Cut off your hair!

Throw it away!

Raise a lamentation

On the bare heights!

Yahweh has rejected

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

Yahweh has forsaken

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

The people of Judah

Have done evil in my sight.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They have set their abominations

In the house

That is called by my name.

They defile it.’”

Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to go into mourning by cutting off his hair. He should get rid of his hair and lament from the heights because Yahweh, in his wrath, has rejected and forsaken this generation. The people of Judah, in specific, have done evil in the sight of Yahweh. They have placed abominations of false idol gods in his house. Thus they have defiled the Temple.

Jacob will be forgiven (Isa 27:6-27:9)

“In days to come,

Jacob shall take root.

Israel shall blossom.

Israel shall put forth shoots.

They will fill the whole world

With fruit.

Has he struck them down

As he struck those

Who struck them?

Or have they been killed

As their killers

Were killed?

By expulsion,

By exile,

You struggled against them.

He removed them

With his fierce blast

In the day of the east wind.

Therefore by this

The guilt of Jacob will be expiated.

This will be the full fruit

Of the removal of his sin.

When he makes all the stones of the altars

Like chalkstones

Crushed to pieces.

No sacred poles will remain standing.

No incense altars will remain standing.”

In some future date, not specified, Jacob or Israel will take root and blossom with many sprouts so that its fruits will be all over the world. Yahweh has struck down and killed those who had struck and killed the Israelites. Thus this appears to be a post-exilic comment. However, the punishment for Israel had been merely banishment or exile via the powerful wind of the Near Eastern powers. That punishment was enough for them to remove the guilt of their sins. Now, however, he was going to remove all those sacred poles and stone altars of incense to the false idol gods. These worship places were to be crushed to pieces like stones or chalk.