They provoke Yahweh’s anger (Jer 7:17-7:20)

“‘Do you not see

What they are doing

In the towns of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem?

The children gather wood.

The fathers kindle fire.

The women knead dough.

They make cakes

For the queen of heaven.

They pour out drink offerings

To other gods.

They provoke me to anger.

Is it I whom they provoke?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Is it not themselves?

Do they not hurt themselves?’

Therefore thus says Yahweh God.

‘My anger shall be poured out

On this place.

My wrath will be poured out

On this place.

It will be poured out

On human beings,

On animals,

On the trees of the field,

On the fruit of the ground.

It will burn.

It will not be quenched.’”

Yahweh pointed out, via Jeremiah, what the people in the towns of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem were doing. The children gathered wood, while their fathers started fires. The women made cakes for the queen of heaven that was the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, or the Canaanite goddess Astarte, the goddess of Venice. They prepared their drink offerings for these gods. Yahweh was provoked to anger and wrath by these actions. Thus Yahweh was going to pour out his anger on all the people, animals, trees, and fruit in Judah and Jerusalem. They would all burn and be consumed with this fire.

Amend your ways (Jer 7:5-7:7)

“If you truly amend your ways,

If you truly amend your doings,

If you truly execute justice,

One with another,

If you do not oppress the alien,

If you do not oppress the orphan,

If you do not oppress the widow,

If you do not shed innocent blood

In this place,

If you do not go after other gods

To your own hurt,

Then I will dwell

With you

In this place,

In the land that I gave of old

To your ancestors forever.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that he will dwell with them if they amend their ways. This was very conditional. It depended on them being just with one another. They were not to oppress the aliens, the orphans, and the widows. They were not to shed innocent blood. They were not to go after others gods. If they did all this, Yahweh would remain with them forever in this land that he gave to their ancestors.

How could God pardon them? (Jer 5:7-5:9)

“How can I pardon you?

Your children have forsaken me.

They have sworn by those

Who are not gods.

When I fed them to the full,

They committed adultery.

They trooped to the houses of prostitutes.

They were well-fed lusty stallions.

Each was neighing for his neighbor’s wife.

Shall I not punish them for these things?

Shall I not bring retribution

On a nation such as this?’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh wanted to know from Jeremiah how he could pardon the people of Jerusalem. Their children had given up on Yahweh. They were swearing to things that were not gods at all. Even after he had fed them to the full, they went and committed adultery. They ran off to the houses of prostitution with their full bellies, like lusty stallions. They were always seeking their neighbor’s wife, like a horse neighing after them. Should they not be punished for such things? This nation deserves retribution.

The false worship of kings (Wis 14:17-14:21)

“When people could not honor monarchs

In their presence,

Since they lived at a distance,

They imagined their appearance from far away.

They made a visible image of the king,

Whom they honored.

Thus by their zeal

They might flatter the absent one as though present.

Then the ambition of the craftsman impelled

Even those who did not know the king

To intensify their worship.

Perhaps wishing to please his ruler,

They skillfully forced the likeness

To take a more beautiful form.

The multitude,

Attracted by the charm of their work,

Now regarded as an object of worship

The one whom shortly before

They had honored as a man.

This became a hidden trap for humankind.

Because men,

In bondage to misfortune

Or to royal authority,

Bestowed on objects of stone

Or wood

The name that ought not to be shared.”

How did kings and rulers become gods? Once again this author has an explanation of how this happened. First, some of the subjects never saw the king because they lived too far away. Since they wanted to know what he looked like, a visible image was created. With the passage of time, the artisans made the king look better than in real life. Thus the worship of the king’s image became a worship object to those who never met the ruler or king. Gradually these beautiful objects of stone became objects of worship because of royal authority. The similarity between the ruler and God was now complete. The ruler was a god so that his image should be worshipped. This was particularly true in the Hellenistic times.

Accursed false idol worship (Wis 14:8-14:11)

“But the idol made with hands is accursed.

So too the one who made it. Having made it,

The perishable thing was named a god.

Equally hateful to God

Are the ungodly man

With their ungodliness.

What was done

Will be punished together

With the one who did it.

Therefore there will be a visitation

Also upon the heathen idols.

Because,

Though part of what God created,

They became an abomination.

They became snares for human souls.

They became a trap to the feet of the foolish.”

Now here is a stinging rebuke of idols and their makers. Both the ungodly idol and the ungodly ones (ὁ ἀσεβῶν) who made it were accursed by God. They were making, calling, and naming these idols gods (θεὸς ὠνομάσθη). They and their idols both would be punished together. Although they are a good part of God’s creation (ἐν κτίσματι Θεοῦ), these idols (εἰδώλοις) have become an abomination or a scandal since they set snares and traps for foolish human souls (σκάνδαλα ψυχαῖς ἀνθρώπων).

The worship of idols (Wis 13:10-13:10)

“But miserable,

With their hopes set on dead things,

Are those Who give the name ‘gods’

To the works of men’s hands.

That is gold fashioned with skill.

That is silver fashioned with skill,

In the likenesses of animals.

That is a useless stone,

The work of an ancient hand.”

Now this author is much more opposed to the works of human hands seen as gods (θεοὺς ἔργα χειρῶν ἀνθρώπων) rather than works of nature, which were not as bad. These idol worship people are miserable. They put their hopes in dead things and called them gods. These skillful art works of gold and silver were usually in the form of some kind of animal. These ancient man made stones that were considered useless.

The creator (Wis 13:3-13:5)

“If through delight

In the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,

Let them know

How much better than these

Is their Lord.

The author of beauty created them.

If people were amazed

At their power,

At their working,

Let them perceive from them

How much more powerful

Is the one who formed them.

From the greatness of created things,

From the beauty of created things,

Comes a corresponding perception

Of their Creator.”

These beautiful natural forces led people to give them divine power as gods (θεοὺς). However, the author of beauty is greater than these beautiful creatures. If they were amazed at the power and works of these creatures, let them understand how much more powerful God is. He formed the greatness in these created things as their creator (ὁ γενεσιουργὸς). This idea of creature and artisan creator was also a common Greek thought. You should get to the creator through the created things that you see.

God is rigorous (Wis 12:23-12:27)

“Therefore those who lived

In an unrighteous way,

In a life of folly,

You tormented

Through their own abominations.

They went far astray

On the paths of error.

They accepted as gods

Those animals

That even their enemies despised.

They were deceived like foolish infants.

Therefore as though like children,

Who cannot reason,

You sent your judgment to mock them.

But those who have not heeded

The warning of light rebukes

Will experience the deserved judgment of God.

When in their suffering,

They became incensed

At those creatures

That they had thought to be gods,

They were punished by means of them.

They saw the true God.

They recognized the true God

Whom they had before refused to know.

Therefore the utmost condemnation

Came upon them.”

Once again, we are reflecting on God’s actions in Egypt. The unrighteous ones (ἀδίκους) were tormented by their own abominations. They had accepted various animals as gods (θεοὺς) as if they were unknowing little infants. When they reached the age of reason you mocked their gods with mild rebukes or the so-called plagues. But they did not heed these mild rebukes or plagues. Finally they recognized the true God (Θεὸν ἐπέγνωσαν ἀληθῆ) and thus they received the ultimate condemnation at the end. This was an attempt to justify the killing of the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians should have known better.

Give thanks to Yahweh (Ps 138:1-138:3)

A Psalm of David

“Yahweh!

I give you thanks

With my whole heart.

Before the gods,

I sing your praise.

I bow down toward your holy temple.

I give thanks to your name.

Because of your steadfast love.

I give thanks to your name.

Because of your faithfulness.

You have exalted your name

Above everything.

You have exalted your word

Above everything.

On the day I called,

You did answer me.

You increased my strength of soul.”

Psalm 138 is a thanksgiving psalm of David as indicated in the title. David gives thanks to Yahweh from his whole heart. He sings his praises in his holy Temple. Yahweh is greater than any of the other gods or angels. He gave thanks to his holy name for his steadfast love and faithfulness. His name and word were to be exalted above everything. On the day that David called, Yahweh answered him. There was no delay here. Thus this strengthened his soul.

Yahweh is great (Ps 135:5-135:7)

“I know that Yahweh is great.

Our Yahweh is above all gods.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In heaven and on earth.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In the seas and all depths.

He makes the clouds rise

At the end of the earth.

He makes lightning

For the rain.

He brings forth the wind

From his storehouses.”

Yahweh is great, above all gods. He does whatever he pleases in heaven, on earth, and in the seas, no matter how deep they are. He makes the clouds rise, lightning for rain, and brings the winds out of his storehouses. The assumption was that Yahweh stored up his winds and then released them as he saw fit.