Ezekiel eats the written scroll (Ezek 3:1-3:3)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Eat what is offered

To you!

Eat this scroll!

Go!

Speak!

To the house

Of Israel!’

So I opened

My mouth.

He gave me

The scroll

To eat.

He said to me.

‘Son of man!

Eat this scroll

That I give you!

Fill your stomach

With it!’

Then I ate it.

It was as sweet

As honey

In my mouth.”

Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man to eat what was given to him. He was to eat this scroll with all the words of lament, mourning, and woes on it. When he would digest it, then he could speak to the house of Israel. Of course, Ezekiel was obedient and opened his mouth. Yahweh gave him the scroll to eat. Once again, Yahweh spoke to Ezekiel as he told him to fill his stomach with this scroll. Then Ezekiel ate the scroll. It tasted as sweet as any honey in his mouth. Now Ezekiel was able to speak the word of God.

The ruined walls of Jerusalem (Lam 2:8-2:8)

Heth

“Yahweh determined

To lay in ruins

The wall

Of daughter Zion.

He stretched

The line.

He did not withhold

His hand

From destroying it.

He caused ramparts

To lament.

He caused the wall

To lament.

They languish together.”

Yahweh himself determined that the walls of Zion should be made a ruin. He stretched out the measuring line, like a surveyor, to determine how to do this. He did not restrain his hand from this work. He has caused the walls and ramparts of Jerusalem to lament and languish together. It seems that Yahweh is portrayed as personally overseeing the destruction of the Jerusalem walls because of his anger at them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Heth. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Against the cities of Ammon (Jer 49:2-49:3)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming,

When I will sound

The battle alarm

Against Rabbah

Of the Ammonites.

It shall become

A desolate mound.

Its villages

Shall be burned

With fire.

Then Israel shall dispossess

Those who dispossessed him.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Wail!

O Heshbon!

Ai is laid waste!

Cry out!

O daughters of Rabbah!

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Slash yourselves

With whips!

Milcom shall go

Into exile,

With his priests,

With his attendants.’”

Yahweh spoke about the destruction of the major cities in Ammon. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon that would become a desolate mound with its various villages around it. They would be burned to the ground. Thus the dispossessed Israelites would be able to re-possess it. However, it is not the Israelites who are invading, but the Babylonians. Heshbon was the ancient city of King Sihon that had been captured by the Israelites. It was part of the Reuben territory and then Gad territory, since it was almost on the border between Moab and Ammon. The city of Ai was near Bethel in the Benjamin territory on the west side of the Jordan River. However, here this is another otherwise unknown city named Ai near Heshbon. All of these cities were going to lament their situation with mourning and sack cloth. Their god Milcom with his priests and attendants would also go into exile.

The future death of King Zedekiah (Jer 34:4-34:5)

“Yet hear

The word of Yahweh!

O King Zedekiah

Of Judah!

Thus says Yahweh

Concerning you.

‘You shall not die

By the sword.

You shall die in peace.

As spices were burned

For your ancestors,

The earlier kings

Who preceded you,

So they will

Burn spices for you.

They will

Lament for you,

Saying.

‘Alas!

Lord!’

I have spoken the word.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh has Jeremiah tell King Zedekiah that he will not die by the sword or on the battlefield. Instead the king would die in peace. They would have a nice funeral for him. They would burn spices for him, as they had done to the honor the former kings, his ancestors. They had not done this for his brother King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). However, they would lament the death of King Zedekiah as if he were a good king. Thus he would have a glorious happy death.

Jeremiah curses the day he was born (Jer 20:14-20:18)

“Cursed be the day

On which I was born!

The day

When my mother bore me,

Let it not be blessed!

Cursed be the man

Who brought the news to my father!

‘A child is born to you,

A son.’

This made him very glad.

Let that man be

Like the cities

That Yahweh overthrew without pity!

Let him hear a cry in the morning!

Let him hear an alarm at noon!

Because he did not kill me

In the womb.

Thus my mother would have been

My grave.

Her womb would be forever great.

Why did I come forth

From the womb?

To see toil?

To see sorrow?

Why do I spend my days in shame?”

It is an unusual idea to curse one’s own existence. The only comparable thought would have been in Job, chapter 3, where he cursed the day he was conceived and the day he was born. This is a lament about the personal problems in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He wanted the day of his birth not to be a celebration or blessing, but a cursed day. He even wanted the man who told his father about the birth of his son to be cursed also. Jeremiah wanted that man to be like Yahweh’s destroyed cities. He wanted him to hear cries in the morning and at noon. They should have killed him in the womb so that his mother’s womb would have been his grave. This is an interesting thought for many anti-abortionists. Jeremiah wondered why he had come forth from the womb only to have a life of toils and sorrow, filled with shame. This is a very depressing idea, much like the poor depressed Job.

No funeral rites or burial (Jer 16:5-16:7)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Do not enter

The house of mourning!

Do not go to lament!

Do not bemoan them!

I have taken away

My peace

From this people.

I have taken away

My steadfast love.

I have taken away

My mercy.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Both great as well as small

Shall die in this land.

They shall not be buried.

No one shall lament for them.

There shall be no gashing.

There shall be no shaving of the head for them.

No one shall break bread

For the mourner.

No one shall offer

Comfort for the dead.

No one shall give them

The cup of consolation to drink

For their fathers,

Nor for their mothers.’”

Yahweh was clear to Jeremiah. He was not to enter anyplace where mourning was going on. Jeremiah was not to lament or bemoan anyone. Yahweh had taken away his peace, love, and mercy from his people. He warned that everyone, whether they were important or not, would all die in this land of desolation. However, they were not to be buried. No one should lament for them. They were not to be involved with the traditional funeral rites of cutting oneself or gashing, as well as shaving one’s head. No one should eat with them. They should not drink from the cup of consolation, even if it is their father or mother.

The fatal undignified future of the people (Jer 16:3-16:4)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning the sons,

As well as the daughters,

Of those born in this place.

The same fate awaits the mothers

Who bore them

As well as the fathers

Who begot them in this land.

They shall die of deadly diseases.

They shall not be lamented.

They shall not be buried.

They shall become

Like dung on the surface of the ground.

They shall perish

By the sword,

Or by famine.

Their dead bodies

Shall become food

For the birds of the air.

Their dead bodies

Shall become food

For the wild animals of the earth.”

Yahweh was clear to Jeremiah. This saying was meant for the sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers of the people in this place. The same terrible fate awaited them all. They were going to die of deadly diseases, which would not have been that uncommon. However, there would be no one to lament them or bury them. Their bodies would lie in the fields like fertilizer dung on the ground. Thus they would not receive a proper burial. They would die either by sword or famine. Their dead bodies would lay in the streets and fields to become food for the birds and the wild animals. This would not be a pretty sight.

Cut your hair off (Jer 7:29-7:30)

“Cut off your hair!

Throw it away!

Raise a lamentation

On the bare heights!

Yahweh has rejected

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

Yahweh has forsaken

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

The people of Judah

Have done evil in my sight.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They have set their abominations

In the house

That is called by my name.

They defile it.’”

Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to go into mourning by cutting off his hair. He should get rid of his hair and lament from the heights because Yahweh, in his wrath, has rejected and forsaken this generation. The people of Judah, in specific, have done evil in the sight of Yahweh. They have placed abominations of false idol gods in his house. Thus they have defiled the Temple.

The reaction to this report (Jer 6:24-6:26)

“We have heard news of them.

Our hands fall helpless.

Anguish has taken hold of us.

We have pain

Like a woman in labor.

Do not go into the field!

Do not walk on the road!

The enemy has a sword.

Terror is on every side.

O daughter of my people!

Put on sackcloth!

Roll in ashes!

Make mourning

Like for an only child!

Make mourning

Like most bitter lamentations.

Suddenly the destroyer

Will come upon us.”

When the Israelites heard the news of this invasion, they felt helpless and anguished. They were pained like a woman in labor. They were told not to go into the fields or on the roads because terror or fear was everywhere. The sword was raised against them. Against all this, Jeremiah wanted these Israelites to put on sackcloth, roll in ashes, and go into mourning, as if they had lost their only child. They should lament because the destroyer would suddenly come upon them.

The destruction from the north (Jer 4:6-4:8)

“I am bringing evil

From the north.

I am bringing great destruction.

A lion has gone up from its thicket.

A destroyer of nations has set out.

He has gone forth from his place

To make your land a waste.

Your cities will be in ruins

Without inhabitants.

Because of this

Put on sackcloth!

Lament!

Wail!’

The fierce anger of Yahweh

Has not turned away from us.”

Now Jeremiah says that Yahweh was going to bring this evil and great destruction from the north, without indicating whether it was the Assyrians or the Babylonians. However, this lion and destroyer of nations has set out from his den in order to create a wasteland. He would reduce their cities to ruins by decimating its inhabitants. They were to put on sackcloth, wail, and lament because the fierce anger of Yahweh was against them. They are in the line of fire of this destroyer.