The four destroyers (Jer 15:3-15:4)

“‘I will appoint over them

Four kinds of destroyers.’

Says Yahweh.

‘The sword is to kill.

The dogs are to drag away.

The birds of the air are to devour.

The animals of the earth are to destroy.

I will make them a horror

To all the kingdoms of the earth,

Because of what King Manasseh,

Son of King Hezekiah of Judah,

Did in Jerusalem.’”

Yahweh once again spoke about 4 different ways that he would destroy the people. While the sword was the only common one from the preceding verses, famine, pestilence, and captivity have given way to dogs, birds, and animals. The sword would kill. The dogs would drag them away. The birds of the air would devour them, while the other earth animals would destroy them. They would become a horror to the all countries on earth. This was all done because of what King Manasseh (687-642 BCE), the son of King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) had done in Judah and Jerusalem. However, this captivity was nearly a century later in 587 BCE. Why did Yahweh wait so long? The son of King Manasseh was the good king Josiah (640-609 BCE) who led a religious reform. All this is based on 2 Kings, chapters 21-23.

The failure of Judah (Jer 3:7-3:10)

“I thought.

‘After she has done all this

She will return to me.’

But she did not return.

Her false sister Judah saw it.

She saw

That for all the adulteries

Of that faithless one,

Israel.

I had sent her away

With a decree of divorce.

Yet her false sister Judah did not fear.

But she too went

To play the whore.

Because she took her whoredom so lightly,

She polluted the land.

She committed adultery

With a stone.

She committed adultery

With a tree.

Yet for all this

Her false sister Judah

Did not return to me

With her whole heart,

But only in pretense.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah, but this time it was about Judah, not the northern Israelite tribes. Yahweh had expected the northern tribes to return to him. However, the southern tribe of Judah saw what happened and did the same as her northern sisters. Judah had no fear, even though Yahweh had divorced northern Israel. Then Judah, the false sister, played the whore. She polluted the land as she turned to worshiping the stones and trees during the reigns of the preceding kings of Judah, King Manasseh (687-642 BCE) and King Amon (642-640 BCE) the father and grandfather of King Josiah. Thus they committed adultery with these false worship services. Judah only pretended to return to Yahweh. Thus Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah.

The reign of King Amon (2 Chr 33:21-33:25)

“King Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign. He reigned two years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as his father King Manasseh had done. King Amon sacrificed to all the images that King Manasseh his father had made. He served them. He did not humble himself before Yahweh, as his father King Manasseh had humbled himself. King Amon incurred more and more guilt. His servants conspired against him. They killed him in his house. However, the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon. The people of the land made his son Josiah king to succeed him.”

This is loosely based on 2 Kings, chapter 21. King Amon was young, 22 years old, when he began to rule Judah. However, he only lasted 2 years. There is no mention of his mother here like in 2 Kings. He, like his father King Manasseh, served and worshipped idols. He abandoned Yahweh and did not walk in the ways of Yahweh. However, unlike his father, he never humbled himself, repented, and asked Yahweh for forgiveness. Once again, there is no explanation of why this uprising and conspiracy took place. There is not a hint that Yahweh was responsible one way or another. It just happened. However, this was not popular so that the king’s servants were also killed by the people of the land.   They took his young son Josiah and made him king since King Amon was only 24 years old when he died. However, there is no mention of the lost “Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah,” or that he was buried with his father, King Manasseh, in their palace garden, as there was in 2 Kings.

The restoration of the Yahweh worship (2 Chr 33:14-33:17)

“Afterwards, King Manasseh built an outer wall for the city of David west of Gihon, in the valley, reaching the entrance at the Fish Gate. He carried it around the Ophel. He raised it to a very great height. He also put commanders of the army in all the fortified cities in Judah. He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the house of Yahweh. He threw all the altars that he had built on the mountain of the house of Yahweh and in Jerusalem outside of the city. He also restored the altar of Yahweh. He offered on it sacrifices of well-being and of thanksgiving. He commanded Judah to serve Yahweh the God of Israel. Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to Yahweh their God.”

King Manasseh fortified the city of David and the various cities of Judah. This new wall went around to Gihon and Ophel, at the Fish Gate on the northwest side of Jerusalem. This had to do with the water and the fish markets. More importantly, he got rid of the foreign gods that he placed in and around the Temple. He tore down the altars of the other gods. He took the idol out of the Temple. He restored the altar to Yahweh. He himself offered sacrifices of well-being and thanksgiving. He wanted everyone to be Yahweh worshippers. However, they still sacrificed at the high places, but only to Yahweh and not other gods.

The invasion of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-24:4)

“In his days, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up. King Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. Yahweh sent against him the bands of the Chaldeans, the Arameans, the Moabites, and the Ammonites to attack him. He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of Yahweh that he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of Yahweh, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of King Manasseh, for all that he had committed, and for the innocent blood that he had shed. He filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. Yahweh was not willing to pardon.”

King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE) ruled in Babylon 43 years so his influence was quite profound. King Jehoiakim of Judah was his servant for 3 years before he rebelled against him. However, it seems like Yahweh is on the Babylonian king’s side. This appears to be a punishment for Judah because of King Manasseh as outlined in chapter 21 of this book. The good King Josiah could not offset this punishment because Yahweh was not willing to forgive him. So a variety of other people under King Nebuchadnezzar came to invade Judah, the Chaldeans or Babylonians, as well as the old enemies like the Arameans, Moabites, and Ammonites. He seemed to have been a good fighter because he was able to hold off all these opponents.

 

Destruction of the foreign god’s worship places (2 Kings 23:10-23:14)

“King Josiah defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or daughter pass through fire as an offering to Molech. He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were at the entrance to the house of Yahweh, by the chamber of the eunuch Nathan-melech, which was in the precincts. Then he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. He pulled down the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of King Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made as well as the altars which King Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. He broke them into pieces. He threw the rubble into the Wadi Kidron. The king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Destruction, which King Solomon of Israel had built for Astarte the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. He broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the sacred poles, and covered the sites with human bones.”

King Josiah eliminated the ancient Ammonite and Canaanite practice of burning children as a sacrifice to the fertility god Molech at a place called Topheth, which was in the valley of Ben-hinnom. The sacrifices to Molech were also mentioned in Leviticus, chapters 18 and 21. He then eliminated the horses of the kings of Judah that had been dedicated to the sun god. These must have been at the entrance to the temple, somehow near where a eunuch official named Nathan-melech lived. The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun god. Worship of sun must have been prevalent. This king tore down and broke into pieces the altars that King Ahaz had made for his upper chamber and the altars that King Manasseh had put into the temple of Yahweh itself. Finally, he put the rubble into the Wadi Kidron, which turned out to be some sort of garbage dump for all this sacred stuff. Next, the king tore down the houses of worship that King Solomon had built for his wives to worship the foreign gods of Astarte, Chemosh, and Milcom. He broke all their pillars and sacred poles and covered them with human bones.

The short reign of King Amon in Judah (642-640 BCE) (2 Kings 21:19-21:22)

“King Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign. He reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, as his father King Manasseh had done. He walked in all the ways in which his father walked. He served the idols that his father served, and worshiped them. He abandoned Yahweh, the God of his ancestors. He did not walk in the way of Yahweh.”

King Amon was young, 22 years old, when he began to rule Judah. However, he only lasted 2 years. This is the only mention of his mother Meshullemeth, so that she did not play a major role. He, like his father King Manasseh, served and worshipped idols. He abandoned Yahweh and did not walk in the way of Yahweh.