The house of Israel idol worshippers (Ezek 20:39-20:39)

“As for you!

O house of Israel!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Go serve your idols!

Every one of you!

Now and hereafter!

If you will not listen

To me.

But you shall not

Profane

My holy name

With your gifts,

With your idols.”

Yahweh was clear in his admonition to the house of Israel. If they wanted to serve their idols, they were free to go ahead and do so. However, if they did that, they were not listening to Yahweh. They were profaning his holy name. Yahweh was not going to receive their gifts or their idols because they were a profanation to Yahweh.

Yahweh against the prophetess’s activities (Ezek 13:20-13:21)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘I am against

Your bands

With which you hunt lives.

I will tear them

From your arms.

I will let the lives

Go free

Like the lives

That you hunt down

Like birds.

I will tear off

Your veils.

I will save my people

From your hands.

They shall no longer

Be prey

In your hands.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh was opposed to the activities of the prophetesses. He was against their so-called magical arm bands. He was going to tear them off their arms. He was going to let free, those whom they were hunting. How they were hunting them was not clear. Perhaps, it was some kind of voodoo. These people would be set free like birds. He was also going to tear off their veils or kerchiefs. Yahweh was going to save his people from them, so that they would not be prey in their hands anymore. They would learn to know that he was God, Yahweh.

The captured people of Israel and Judah (Jer 50:33-50:33)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘The people of Israel

Are oppressed.

So too are

The people of Judah.

All their captors

Have held them fast.

They refuse

To let them go.’”

Yahweh explains that both the people of Israel and Judah have been oppressed by their captors, who have held them firmly in their grasp. These captors have refused to let the Israelites and Judeans go free.

Jeremiah stays in Judah (Jer 40:5-40:6)

“‘If you remain,

Then return to Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan.

The king of Babylon

Has appointed him governor

Of the towns of Judah.

Stay with him

Among the people!

Or go wherever

You think it right to go.’

So the captain of the guard

Gave him an allowance

Of food

With a present.

He let him go.

Then Jeremiah went

To Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

At Mizpah.

He stayed with him

Among the people

Who were left in the land.”

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the troops, told Jeremiah that if he stayed in Judah that he would be better off with Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam. The King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the governor for the towns of Judah, since there was no longer a king. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Gedaliah’s father and grandfather, Ahikam and Shaphan had been loyal to the various prophets. Shaphan went back to the days of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) and his religious reform. Ahikam had protected Jeremiah during the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE) as in chapter 26 of this book. His brother Gemariah had helped Jeremiah in chapter 36. Thus Ahikam’s son Gedaliah seemed like the right person to protect Jeremiah. Still Jeremiah was free to go wherever he wanted. The captain of the troops gave Jeremiah some food and a present, maybe some money. Jeremiah then went to Gedaliah, who was at Mizpah, about 6 miles north of Jerusalem, in the Benjamin territory. Thus Jeremiah stayed with all these people who were left in Israel. These were either the so-called poor people or collaborators with the Babylon king and his emissaries.

Jeremiah sets out for the Benjamin territory (Jer 37:11-37:12)

“Now when the Chaldean army

Had withdrawn

From Jerusalem

At the approach

Of Pharaoh’s army,

Jeremiah set out

From Jerusalem

To go to

The land of Benjamin

To receive

His share of the property

Among the people there.”

After the conversation with the two envoys of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah set out to go to the Benjamin territory, right next to Jerusalem. As the Chaldean army siege had been lifted with the approach of the Egyptian army, people were free to come and go from Jerusalem. Perhaps Jeremiah was going to see and get his land that he had purchased in chapter 32. It may have been just to see what was going on. Certainly he was going to see the people there.

King Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to pray to Yahweh (Jer 37:3-37:4)

“King Zedekiah

Sent Jehucal,

The son of Shelemiah,

With the priest Zephaniah

The son of Maaseiah,

To the prophet Jeremiah.

Saying.

‘Please pray for us

To Yahweh

Our God.’

Now Jeremiah was still

Going in and out

Among the people.

He had not yet been

Put in prison.”

King Zedekiah sent envoys to Jeremiah to ask him to pray to Yahweh for them. He sent Jehucal, who in the next chapter will turn against Jeremiah, with the priest Zephaniah, to Jeremiah. Zephaniah seemed to be the high priest at the Temple, since he was involved with Pashhur in chapter 21, as well as in chapter 29, as the priest who read the letter from the first exiles. At this time, Jeremiah was still free to roam about his people, since this was before he was put in prison. This was a nice gesture on the part of the king.

The future death of the people of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 34:19-34:20)

“The officials of Judah,

The officials of Jerusalem,

The eunuchs,

The priests,

With all the people

Of the land,

Who passed between

The parts of the calf,

Shall be handed over

To their enemies.

They shall be handed over

To those who seek

Their lives.

Their corpses

Shall be food

For the birds

Of the air

As well as the wild animals

Of the earth.”

All the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the eunuchs and the priests, would be handed over to their enemies, who wanted to kill them. The same goes true also for all the people who were part of that agreement to free the Hebrew slaves, when they passed through the 2 parts of the calf. Thus they would all die. Their dead bodies would become the food for the birds of the air or the wild animals of the earth.

Jeremiah prays (Jer 32:16-32:16)

“After I had given

The deed of purchase

To Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

I prayed to Yahweh.”

Now that this financial transaction was complete and all the documentation had been stored away, Jeremiah prayed to God, Yahweh. Baruch had left with the deed of purchase, so that Jeremiah was free to pray.

The rebellious people (Jer 2:29-2:32)

“‘Why do you complain against me?

You have all rebelled against me.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In vain

I have struck down your children.

They accepted no correction.

Your own sword devoured your prophets

Like a ravening lion.

You!

O generation!

Behold the word of Yahweh!

Have I been a wilderness to Israel?

Have I been a land of thick darkness?

Why then do my people say?

‘We are free.

We will come to you no more.’

Can a girl forget her ornaments?

Can a bride forget her attire?

Yet my people have forgotten me.

They have done so for days without number.’”

The Israelites had rejected Yahweh. They complained and rebelled against him. Their children would not take any kind of correction. They killed his prophets with a sword. Was Yahweh a wilderness or darkness to the Israelites? Why did they say that they were free? They no longer came to Yahweh. How could this happen? Would a girl forget her jeweled ornaments? Would a bride forget her clothing attire? Yet these people have forgotten Yahweh for many unnumbered days.

Warning for the Philistines (Isa 14:28-14:31)

“In the year that King Ahaz died

This oracle came.

‘Do not rejoice!

All you Philistines!

The rod that struck you is broken.

From the snake’s root

Will come forth an adder.

Its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.

The firstborn of the poor will graze.

The needy will lie down in safety.

But I will make your root

Die of famine.

Your remnant,

I will kill.

Wail!

O gate!

Cry!

O city!

Melt in fear!

O Philistia!

All of you!

Smoke comes out of the north.

There is no straggler in his ranks.’”

Next Isaiah turned to the coastal Philistines. This oracle has a specific time frame, the year that King Ahaz died, which would have been about 716 BCE. The Philistines had been a common enemy of the Israelites, especially during the time of King Saul and King David in 1 Samuel and I Chronicles. The Philistine southwestern coastal 5 cities had been captured by the Assyrians. Thus with the destruction of Assyria, they should be free. However, another foe from the north would come to attack them. Yahweh reminded them that a small adder snake can come from the fallen snake like a fiery flying serpent. Although it will seem okay because there will be food to eat and the needy will be safe, Yahweh was going to send them a famine to kill those left over. The Philistines would cry and wail. They would melt with fear because a great army from the north was coming. The Philistines actually seemed to disappear after the Assyrian takeover.