The discussion about Jeremiah (Jer 38:4-38:5)

“Then the officials said

To the king.

‘This man ought

To be put to death.

Because he is discouraging

The soldiers

Who are left in this city.

He is discouraging

All the people,

By speaking such words

To them.

This man is not seeking

The welfare of this people,

But their harm.’

King Zedekiah said.

‘Here he is.

He is in your hands.

The king is powerless

Against you.’”

These four royal officials went to the king and said that Jeremiah ought to be put to death. They said that Jeremiah was discouraging the soldiers who were left in the city, since so many had died already. He was, in fact, discouraging everyone by talking the way he does about the fall of Jerusalem. He was not seeking to help the people, but to harm them. Then King Zedekiah said okay. He left all this in their hands. He would not object to anything that they did. However, he did not say that Jeremiah should die.

The good future plans (Jer 29:11-29:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘Surely I know the plans

I have for you.

These are plans

For your welfare,

Not for your harm.

I want

To give you

A future with hope.”

Once again, Yahweh, via the letter of Jeremiah, said that he would take care of their future, since he had plans for them.   He would not harm them, but rather watch out for their welfare. He wanted to give them a future with hope.

The message of Yahweh’s prophets (Jer 25:5-25:7)

“They said.

‘Every one of you!

Turn now

From your evil ways!

Turn now

From wrong doings!

You will remain

Upon the land

That Yahweh has given

To you

As well as your ancestors

From of old

And forever.

Do not go

After other gods

To serve them,

To worship them!

Do not provoke me to anger

With the work of your hands!

Then I will do you no harm.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Yet you did not listen to me.

Thus you have provoked me

To anger

With the work of your hands

To your own harm.’”

Jeremiah says that Yahweh’s prophets had told all of them to turn away from their evil ways and wicked doings. If they had done that, they would remain in the land that Yahweh gave to them and their ancestors forever. However, they were not to go after other gods, serving and worshipping them. Thus they should not provoke Yahweh to anger with their own hands. Yahweh was not going to harm them. However, they did not listen. They had to provoke him to anger with the works of their own hands that only brought harm to them.

The false happy prophets (Jer 23:16-23:18)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Do not listen

To the words of the prophets

Who prophesy to you.

They are deluding you.

They speak visions

Of their own minds.

These are not

From the mouth of Yahweh.

They keep saying

To those

Who despise the word of Yahweh.

‘It shall be well with you.’

To those

Who stubbornly follow

Their own stubborn hearts,

They say.

‘No calamity

Shall come upon you.’

Who has stood

In the council of Yahweh?

Were they able to see his word?

Were they able to hear his word?

Who has given heed to his word?

Who has proclaimed it?”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, does not want the people to listen to the false prophets, because they are deluding the people with their lies and subjective visions. Their words are not from Yahweh. They keep telling people not to worry since everything will be okay, even though the people stubbornly follow their own hearts. They keep telling the people that no harm was going to come to them. These were the happy delusional prophets. Have they stood in the council of Yahweh? They never saw or heard the word of Yahweh. As they never followed the word of Yahweh, how were they able to proclaim it?

The challenge to other gods (Isa 41:21-41:24)

“‘Set forth your case!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Bring your proofs!’

Says the King of Jacob.

Let them bring them!

Tell us!

What is to happen?

Tell us the former things!

What are they?

Thus we may consider them.

Thus we may know their outcome.

Declare to us the things to come!

Tell us what is to come hereafter!

Thus we may know that you are gods!

Do good!

Do harm!

Thus we may be afraid.

Thus we may be terrified.

You are indeed nothing!

Your work is nothing at all!

Whoever chooses you

Is an abomination.”

Yahweh challenges the people with other gods to respond. He wanted them to present their case or proof for their gods. Could their gods tell people about past things or future things? Can they do some good or harm? Can they make people afraid or terrified? Instead, Yahweh maintains that these gods are nothing and their work is nothing at all. Thus anyone who chooses these gods is an abomination, pure and simple.

The song of the Yahweh’s vineyard (Isa 27:2-27:5)

“On that day,

A pleasant vineyard was there!

Sing of it!

I,

Yahweh,

Am its keeper.

Every moment,

I water it.

I guard it at night.

I guard it during the day,

So that no one can harm it.

I have no wrath.

If it give me thorns,

If it gives me briers,

I will march

To battle against it.

I will burn it up.

Let it cling to me

For protection!

Let it make peace with me!

Let it make peace with me!”

Isaiah uses the symbol of Yahweh’s vineyard to represent what was going to happen to Israel, much like earlier in chapter 5 of this work. However, here, Yahweh is not as mad as he was in the earlier chapter. Using the first person singular for Yahweh, Isaiah said that Yahweh wanted to sing about this pleasant vineyard. Yahweh was careful with this vineyard since he watered it every day. He guarded it night and day so that no one could harm it. He was not angry. However, when the thorns and briers came, he was going to go against this vineyard by burning it down. He wanted the vineyard to cling to him and make peace with him, with a double refrain for peace. Thus we see the obvious connection of Yahweh to the people of Israel.

 

Trusting friendly neighbors (Sir 22:23-22:26)

“Gain the trust of your neighbor

In his poverty.

Thus you may rejoice with him

In his prosperity.

Stand by him

In time of his distress.

Thus you may share with him

In his inheritance.

One should not always despise

Restricted circumstances.

One should not admire

A rich person who is stupid.

The vapor of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

The smoke of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

Thus insults precede bloodshed.

I am not ashamed

To shelter a friend.

I will not hide from him.

But if harm should come to me

Because of him,

Whoever hears of it

Will beware of him.”

Friendship happens in good times as well as bad times. If you trust your neighbor in his poverty, you can rejoice with him in his prosperity. If you stand by him in his distress, you can share with him in his good times. On the other hand, you should not admire a rich stupid person or despise those in poverty. Where there is a smell and smoke, there surely will be a fire. So too, insults often precede bloodshed. So be careful! Sirach was not ashamed to shelter a friend. However, if any harm came to him because of that friend, this would be a reminder to others to be wary about what his friend had done. Even this friendship is a little shaky, so that you should always be on guard against false friends.