The battle with King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 34:1-34:1)

“The word

That came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh,

When King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

With all his army,

As well as all

The kingdoms of the earth,

All the people

Under his dominion,

Were fighting

Against Jerusalem

With all of its cities.”

Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, but there is a different setting, the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar was going to fight against Jerusalem, as well as the towns and cities around it. At this point, the Babylonian king had a lot of people under him with a huge army. Besides his own army, other kingdoms under his control were also fighting with him against Jerusalem. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 41, not chapter 34 as here.

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The Chaldeans take Jerusalem (Jer 32:26-32:29)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.

‘See!

I am Yahweh!

The God of all flesh!

Is anything too hard for me?’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I am going to give this city

Into the hands of the Chaldeans.

I am going to give this city

Into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

He shall take it.

The Chaldeans,

Who are fighting against this city,

Shall come.

They will set this city on fire.

They will burn it.

They will burn the houses

On whose roofs

Offerings were made

To Baal,

Where libations

Have been poured out

To other gods.

They did these sacrifices

To provoke me to anger.’”

Yahweh once again has an oracle for Jeremiah. Yahweh was the God of all flesh. There was nothing too hard for him. He was going to give Jerusalem over to the Chaldeans who were fighting there. He was going to hand the city over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Babylonians and the Chaldeans were going to set the city on fire and burn it down. Thus the houses with the roof tops that had made offerings to Baal or libations to the other gods would be destroyed. These Israelites had offered these sacrifices to provoke Yahweh to anger. They had succeeded.

Yahweh will rescue Jerusalem (Isa 29:5-29:8)

“But the multitude of your foes

Shall be like small dust.

The multitude of tyrants

Shall be like passing chaff.

In an instant,

Suddenly,

You will be visited by Yahweh of hosts.

He will come with thunder.

He will come with an earthquake.

He will come with a great noise.

He will come with a whirlwind.

He will come with a tempest.

He will come with the flame of a devouring fire.

The multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,

All that fight against her,

All that had a stronghold,

All that distress her

Shall be like a dream.

They shall be like a vision of the night.

Just as when a hungry man dreams of eating,

Yet wakes up still hungry.

Or when a thirsty man dreams he is drinking,

Yet wakes up faint,

Still thirsty.

So shall the multitude of all the nations be.

All those that fight against Mount Zion

Shall be like that.”

Despite the earlier warnings, Yahweh will rescue Jerusalem, as her many enemies will become like dust. The tyrants against her will be like passing chaff. Suddenly, there will a visit from Yahweh with thunder, earthquakes, strong storms, and devouring flames. All her enemies who distressed Jerusalem will be like a bad dream. All those nations fighting against Jerusalem will be faint and weak. They will be like those who dream of food and drink, yet wake up still hungry and thirsty.

Oracle about Egypt (Isa 19:1-19:4)

“An oracle concerning Egypt.

See!

Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud.

He comes to Egypt.

The idols of Egypt

Will tremble at his presence.

The heart of the Egyptians

Will melt within them.

‘I will stir up

Egyptians against Egyptians.

They will fight

One against the other,

Neighbor against neighbor,

City against city,

Kingdom against kingdom.

The spirit of the Egyptians,

Within them,

Will be emptied out.

I will confound their plans.

They will consult

The idols,

The spirits of the dead,

The ghosts,

The mediums,

The wizards,

And the familiar spirits.

I will destroy the Egyptians

Into the hand of a hard master.

A fierce king will rule over them.’

So says the Sovereign,

Yahweh of hosts.”

Isaiah presents an oracle of Yahweh about Egypt. He said that Yahweh was riding high on a cloud as he came to Egypt as the false idols of Egypt trembled. The hearts of the Egyptians began to melt. Then Yahweh said that he was going to stir up fighting among the Egyptians themselves against each other, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. They would all lose their spirit. They would be confused. Then they would consult their idols, their dead spirits, their ghosts, their mediums, their wizards, and all kinds of their strange spirits. Yahweh said that he was going to destroy the Egyptians as he was going to hand them over to a fierce king. Clearly Yahweh has spoken.

Wine (Prov 20:1-20:2)

“Wine is a mocker.

Strong drink is a brawler.

Whoever is led astray by wine

Is not wise.

The dread wrath of a king is

Like the growling of a lion.

Anyone who provokes the king to anger

Forfeits his life.”

Wine makes people mock each other. Strong alcoholic drink will lead to brawling and fighting. Whoever is led astray by wine is not wise. Once again we have the comparison of the anger of a king to that of a growling lion as in the preceding parable. If you provoke the king to anger, then you forfeit your life.

The death of Nicanor (2 Macc 15:25-15:28)

“Nicanor and his troops advanced with trumpets and battle songs. Judas Maccabeus and his troops met the enemy in battle with invocations to God and prayers. So, fighting with their hands and praying to God in their hearts, they laid low no less than thirty-five thousand men. They were greatly gladdened by God’s manifestation. When the action was over, they were returning with joy. They recognized Nicanor, lying dead, in full armor.”

Nicanor and his army advanced with trumpets and battle songs. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus and his troops went to fight with prayers in their hearts to God. Thus they fought and prayed at the same time. This seemed to have worked quite well. They killed 35,000 troops of Nicanor. They were glad because God had manifested his gladness with their actions. After the action was all over, they too were happy. Then they recognized Nicanor in full armor dead. There is something similar to this in 1 Maccabees, chapter 7, where Nicanor was defeated.

The people prepare (2 Macc 15:17-15:19)

“The people were encouraged by the words of Judas Maccabeus. They were so noble and so effective in arousing the valor and awaking the courage in the souls of the young. Thus, they determined not to remain in camp, but to attack bravely. They would decide the matter, by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were in danger. Their concern for their wives and children, and also for their brothers, sisters, and relatives, lay upon them less heavily. Their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. Those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.”

Judas Maccabeus had encouraged the people to have courage, especially the young. Instead of staying in camp, they were willing to attack bravely. They wanted to fight hand to hand with courage. They were more worried about the city, the Temple, and sanctuary rather than their wives, children, brothers, sisters, or other relatives. Their greatest fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. The people who remained in the city were anxious about the battle encounter in the open country.