The desolation of Babylon (Jer 51:41-51:43)

“How Sheshach is taken!

The pride

Of the whole earth

Has been seized!

How Babylon has become

An object of horror

Among the nations!

The sea has risen

Over Babylon.

She has been covered

By its tumultuous waves.

Her cities have become

An object of horror,

A land of drought,

A desert,

A land in which no one lives.

No mortal person

Passes through.”

Sheshach is an atbash cipher for Babylon. This once proud country has been seized. Thus Babylon has become an object of horror to all the countries. The strong waves of the sea have covered her land. Her cities are horrible. They are like a dried up desert, where no one lives and no one even passes by.

 

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The fate of the remnant of Judah (Jer 44:11-44:12)

“Therefore thus says

Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I am determined

To bring disaster

On you.

I will bring

All Judah

To an end.

I will take

The remnant of Judah.

They are determined

To come to the land

Of Egypt

To settle.

Everyone shall perish.

In the land of Egypt,

They shall fall.

They shall perish

By the sword

Or by famine.

From the least

To the greatest,

They shall die

By the sword

Or by famine.

They shall become

An object of

Execration,

Horror,

Cursing,

Ridicule.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that the remnant of Judah would not come to a happy ending. They were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. Now Yahweh was going to bring disaster upon them. They, from the least to the greatest, would perish. They would die either by the sword or by famine. There was no mention of pestilence. They would become objects of disdain, execration, horrible, cursed at, and ridiculed. They would suffer because of their disobedience in coming to settle in Egypt.

Bad things coming to those in Jerusalem (Jer 29:17-29:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I am going to let loose on them

The sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them

Like rotten figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten.

I will pursue them

With the sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them a horror

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be an object of

Cursing,

Horror,

As well as hissing.

They will be a reproach

Among all the nations

Where I have driven them.

They did not heed my words.’

Says Yahweh.

‘When I persistently sent to you

My servants,

The prophets.

But they would not listen.’

Says Yahweh.

‘But now!

All you exiles!

Whom I sent away

From Jerusalem

To Babylon!

Hear the word of Yahweh!”

Yahweh was not going to let the people who had been left in Jerusalem off the hook. They were to suffer the fate of the sword, famine, or pestilence. They would become like rotten figs that could not be eaten, so that they would be a horror. This is almost word for word what was said in chapter 24, where Yahweh talked about the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. They would be cursed, horrible, and hissed wherever they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence because they had not listened to the words of Yahweh. Now Jeremiah warned the exiles themselves to listen to the word of Yahweh.

The basket of bad figs (Jer 24:8-24:10)

“But thus says Yahweh.

‘Like the bad figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten,

So will I treat King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

His officials,

The remnant of Jerusalem

Who remain in this land,

As well as those

Who live in the land of Egypt.

I will make them a horror.

I will make them an evil thing

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be

A disgrace,

A byword,

A taunt,

A curse

In all the places

Where I shall drive them.

I will send the sword,

Famine,

Pestilence

Upon them.

They shall be utterly destroyed

From the land

That I gave to them

As well as to their ancestors.’”

Next Yahweh gave Jeremiah the explanation about the uneatable bad figs. In particular, he cited King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) who became the titular king subservient to Babylon after the first exile in 598 BCE. Yahweh compared these bad figs to the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. Like King Zedekiah, they were traitors or betrayers. Yahweh also mentioned those who had gone to Egypt as evil horrible ones also. They would be known to all the various countries as a disgrace, a byword. They would be taunted and cursed, no matter where they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence until they were completely wiped out. They would never inherit the land that they and their ancestors had. It seems that non-exiles had a worse fate than those who went into exile.

The false prophets and priests (Jer 5:30-5:31)

“An appalling thing

Has happened in the land.

A horrible thing

Has happened in the land.

The prophets prophesy falsely.

The priests rule

As the prophets direct them.

My people love to have it so.

But what will you do

When the end comes?”

Jeremiah points out that although terrible appalling and horrible things are happening in the land, the people still love it. The prophets are prophesying falsely, while the priests follow what the prophets say. No one is calling them out for their false words, but everyone seems to like it. What is going to happen to them when the end comes?