Israel as an ungrateful child (Hos 11:1-11:4)

“When Israel was a child,

I loved him.

I called my son

Out of Egypt.

The more I called them,

The more they went from me.

They kept sacrificing

To the Baals.

They kept offering incense

To idols.

Yet it was I

Who taught Ephraim

To walk.

I took them up

In my arms.

But they did not know

That I healed them.

I led them

With cords

Of human kindness.

I led them

With the bands of love.

I was to them

Like those who lift infants

To their cheeks.

I bent down to them.

I fed them.”

When Israel was a child, Yahweh loved him. He had called his son out of Egypt. However, the more that he called them, the more that they went from him. They kept sacrificing to the Baals, offering incense to these idols. Yahweh was the one who taught Ephraim how to walk. He took him up in his arms. They did not know that he had healed them. He led them around with cords of human kindness and bands of love. He lifted them up to his cheeks. He bent down to fed them. Now instead of Israel or Ephraim as an unfaithful lover as earlier in this work, Israel and Ephraim have become ungrateful children.

The small weak Israelites (Dan 3:14-3:15)

“O Lord!

We have become fewer

Than any other nation!

We are brought low

This day

In all the world,

Because of our sins.

In our day,

We have no

Ruler,

Prophet,

Or leader.

We have no

Burnt offerings,

Sacrifices,

Oblations,

Or incense.

We have no place

To make an offering

Before you.

We have no place

To find mercy.”

Azariah pointed out the weakness of Israel. They were weaker than any other country, because of their sins. Thus, today, they do not have any rulers, prophets, or leaders. They have no place to offer burnt offerings, sacrifices, oblations, or incense. They have no place to go to ask for mercy. Their country and the Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed.

 

King Nebuchadnezzar worships Daniel (Dan 2:46-2:46)

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar

Fell on his face.

He worshipped Daniel.

He commanded

That a grain offering

With incense

Be offered to him.”

After this dream interpretation by Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, as he worshipped Daniel. He even commanded that a grain offering with incense be offered to him, since Daniel had become like a god.

The recent bad activities of Jerusalem (Ezek 23:40-23:42)

“They even sent

For men

To come from far away.

A messenger

Was sent.

They came.

You bathed yourself

For them.

You painted your eyes.

You decked yourself

With ornaments.

You sat

On a stately couch.

You had a table

Spread before it.

You had placed

My incense

With my oil

On it.

The sound

Of a raucous multitude

Was around you.

Many of the rabble

Were brought in drunk

From the wilderness.

They put bracelets

On the arms

Of the women.

They put beautiful crowns

Upon their heads.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, seemed to be aiming these remarks at the people of Jerusalem for their recent behavior. She, Jerusalem, had sent messengers to invite men from far away to come to Jerusalem. In order to get ready for them, Jerusalem bathed herself, painted her eyes, and put on her colorful ornaments. She sat on a stately couch with a table before it. She placed Yahweh’s incense and oil on this table. Then one could hear the sound of a loud raucous mob that had gathered around her. Many of these drunkard rabble rousers from the wilderness put bracelets on her arms and beautiful crowns on her head. This seems to be an allusion to an invitation for drunken foreigners to come to Jerusalem to take advantage of her.

Using Yahweh’s gifts to worship other gods (Ezek 16:17-16:19)

“‘You also took

Your beautiful jewels

Of my gold,

Of my silver,

That I had given you.

You made for yourself

Male images.

You played

The whore

With them.

You took

Your embroidered garments

To cover them.

You set my oil

Before them.

You set my incense

Before them.

You set my bread

That I gave you,

That I had fed you

With choice flour,

With oil,

With honey,

Before them

As a pleasing odor.

So it was.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh said that this young girl Jerusalem took the beautiful silver and gold jewels that he had given her and then made male images, so that she could play the whore with them. She covered them with her embroidered garments. She set Yahweh’s oil and incense before them. She took the bread, the choice flour, the oil, and the honey that Yahweh had given her to put as a pleasing odor before her new gods. Yahweh had spoken clearly.

The idol worship service of the seventy Jerusalem elders (Ezek 8:10-8:11)

“So I went in.

I looked.

There portrayed

On the wall,

All around,

Were all kinds

Of creeping things,

Loathsome animals,

With all the idols

Of the house of Israel.

Before them

Stood seventy

Of the elders

Of the house

Of Israel,

With Jaazaniah,

The son of Shaphan,

Standing among them.

Each had his censer

In his hand.

The fragrant cloud

Of incense

Was ascending.”

Ezekiel went into the worship service room on the other side of the wall. He saw various inscriptions or pictures all around the walls that included creeping things, despicable animals, and all kinds of idols from the house of Israel. This must have indicated some kind of Egyptian or Babylonian idol gods, perhaps the god Osiris. However, this might be a mishmash of various idol gods. Even more shocking was to see the 70 Jerusalem elders of Israel, including Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan, standing there with lit censers in their hands as the fragrant smell of incense ascended in the air. This was a shocking sight to see.

The temple prostitutes (Bar 6:42-6:44)

“The women,

With cords around them,

Sit along the passageways.

The burn bran

For incense.

When one of them

Is led off

By one of the passers-by,

They are taken to bed

By him.

She then derides

The woman next to her,

Because she was not

As attractive

As herself.

Her cord

Was not broken.

Whatever is done

For these idols

Is false.

Why then must anyone think

That they are gods?

Why call them gods?”

Here there is a description of the temple prostitutes and their behavior. These women, with cords around them, would sit in the passageways at the temple, burning bran for incense. Then a passer-by would invite them or take them off to sleep with them. Strangely enough, when the woman would return, she would make fun of the other women who were not chosen to have sex with these passer-bys, because they were not as attractive as she was. These other women had no one to break their cords. Thus these false idols bring about all kinds of strange behaviors. That is why people might doubt that these were true gods. How could you call them gods?

Money for temple worship offerings (Bar 1:10-1:10)

“They said.

‘Here we send you

Money.

So buy

With this money

Burnt offerings,

Sin offerings,

With incense.

Prepare

A grain offering.

Offer them

On the altar

Of the Lord

Our God!’”

The people with Baruch wanted to take up a collection and send money to the people in Jerusalem. With this money, the Jerusalem Judeans were to buy burnt offerings, sin offerings, incense, and grain offerings. All these were to be presented at the altar of the Lord God. However, there are some problems since the Temple and its altars were all destroyed. Was there a temporary temple in Jerusalem during the exile? How many people were left in Jerusalem?

Eighty pilgrim worshippers arrive at Mizpah (Jer 41:4-41:5)

“On the day after

The murder of Governor Gedaliah,

Before anyone knew of it,

Eighty men arrived

From Shechem,

From Shiloh,

From Samaria.

Their beards were shaved.

Their clothes were torn.

Their bodies were gashed.

They were bringing

Grain offerings

With incense

To present

At the temple of Yahweh.”

The day after the death of Judean governor, 80 pilgrims from the northern areas of Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria came by. As Mizpah was near Jerusalem, they would want to stop there. Obviously, they knew nothing about the death of Governor Gedaliah the day before, but they might have heard about the good times at Mizpah. These pilgrims had shaved beards, torn clothes, and gashes on their bodies, typical signs of mourning. They may have been on their way to mourn the passing of the Temple in Jerusalem with their grain offerings and incense. However, they might also be on the way to celebrate the feast of Tents.

False worship (Jer 19:3-19:4)

“You shall say!

‘Hear the word of Yahweh!

O kings of Judah!

O Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to bring such disaster

Upon this place

That the ears of everyone

Who hears of it

Will tingle.

Because the people have forsaken me.

They have profaned this place

By burning incense in it

To other gods

Whom neither they,

Nor their ancestors,

Nor the kings of Judah

Have known.

They have filled

This place

With the blood of the innocent ones.’”

The message from Yahweh to Jeremiah was clear. He was to tell the kings of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem that Yahweh was going to being disaster upon this place. When they would hear about this impending disaster, their ears would tingle. They had given up on Yahweh. Instead they had turned to burning incense to other gods, thus defiling and profaning this sacred place. Neither they, nor their ancestors, nor the kings of Judah had known these strange false gods before. They had filled this place with innocent blood.