The disgraced priests and elders (Lam 4:16-4:16)

Phe

“Yahweh himself

Has scattered them.

He will regard them

No more.

No honor

Was shown

To the priests.

No favor

To the elders.”

Yahweh himself had scattered these immoral leaders. He did not have any regard for them any longer. No honor was to be shown to any of these priests, while the elders were not to be favored. Yahweh had clearly turned on these so-called spiritual leaders. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe in this acrostic poem.

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Ephraim is the first born (Jer 31:9-31:9)

“With weeping,

They shall come.

With consolations,

I will lead them back.

I will let them walk

By brooks of water.

I will let them walk

In a straight path.

They shall not stumble.

I have become

A father to Israel.

Ephraim is my first-born.”

The Israelites would return home weeping. Yahweh would lead this great group, as he consoled them. They would walk by brooks of water on a straight path. Thus, they would not stumble. Yahweh would be the father of Israel again. There his first born would be Ephraim, of the northern country, and not Judah. This seems out of character, since Judah was always favored. However, this is the northern kingdom of Israel that he is talking about.

The people in Jerusalem (Jer 29:16-29:16)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning the king

Who sits

On the throne of David.

This concerns

All the people

Who live in this city.

This concerns

Your kinsmen

Who did not go out

With you into exile.”

This and the following verses are lacking in the Greek Septuagint translation, since they are like a comment on Jeremiah’s letter. Yahweh seems to be talking about the king in Jerusalem as well as the people who were not sent into captivity. These are the people who were left behind in Jerusalem, their relatives. They were the people favored by the Babylonians, since they were not sent to Babylon in the first purge and captivity of 598 BCE.

Jeremiah is to wear an iron yoke (Jer 28:13-28:14)

“‘Go!

Tell Hananiah!

Thus says Yahweh!

You have broken wooden bars,

Only to forge iron bars

In place of them!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I have put an iron yoke

On the neck of all these nations.

Thus they may serve

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

They shall indeed serve him.

I have even given to him

The wild animals.’”

Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah to tell him to go to the prophet Hananiah. Jeremiah was to tell Hananiah that even though he had broken the wooden yoke that Jeremiah had around his neck, it was going to be replaced with an iron yoke. In fact, Yahweh, the God of Israel, was going to put an iron yoke on all the nations, so that they would all serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. There was no doubt that Yahweh favored the Babylonian king, so that even the wild animals were under his control.

Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.

The curse on King Coniah (Jer 22:28-22:30)

“Is this man

King Coniah

A despised,

Broken pot?

Is he a vessel

That no one wants?

Why is he

With his children hurled out?

Why are they cast away

In a land that they do not know?

O land!

O land!

O land!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Record this man as childless!

He is a man

Who shall not succeed in his days.

None of his offspring

Shall succeed

In sitting on the throne of David,

Ruling again in Judah.’”

Yahweh was very opposed to King Coniah or King Jehoiachin or King Jeconiah (598 BCE), as he was called. King Coniah was the son of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). Why was he a despised broken pot? Why were he and his family thrown out of Judah? They were sent to a land that they did not know. Yahweh cried out to the land. King Coniah should be recorded as having no children, although he actually had children. He was not successful. None of his offspring would ever rule or sit on the throne of David, a pretty strong promise or curse. Thus this seems like the end of Davidic rule in Judah. He had favored the Egyptians, but now was sent to Babylon as a captive during the first captivity of 598 BCE.

Generosity (Prov 11:24-11:28)

“Some give freely.

Yet they grow all the richer.

Others withhold what is due.

But they only suffer want.

A generous person will be enriched.

One who gives water will get water.

The people curse those who hold back grain.

But a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.

Whoever diligently seeks good things seeks favor.

But evil comes to the one who searches for it.

Those who trust in their riches will wither.

But the righteous will flourish like green leaves.”

There is a need for generosity. Those people who give freely usually grow richer. Those who withhold what is due only suffer more wanting of things. A generous person will be enriched. If you give water, you will get water. If you hold back your grain, hoping for a higher price, you will be cursed. However, you will be blessed if you sell it to others in the normal course of the harvest. If you are seeking good things, you will be favored. If you are looking for evil, you will find it. If you trust in your wealth, it will wither away on you. However, if you are righteous, you will flourish like green leaves on a tree.