Against the Ammonites (Ezek 25:1-25:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the Ammonites,

Prophesy against them.’”

Now there are a series of oracles against the various countries around Israel and Judah. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Who are the Ammonites? In the biblical sense, they are the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot from the incest incident with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. They seem to have been east of the Jordan and north of Moab, but south of Assyria. The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua, chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Jeremiah, chapter 49, had also spoken out against them. They along with the Moabites were the constant enemies of Judah and Israel. At some point, they became part of the Assyrian empire and eventually ceased to exist. They certainly were related to Canaan and spoke a Semitic language.

The false visions (Ezek 13:5-13:7)

“‘You have not gone up

Into the breaches.

You have not

Repaired a wall

For the house of Israel.

Thus it might stand

In battle

On the day

Of Yahweh.

They have envisioned

Falsehood

With lying divinations.

They say.

‘Says Yahweh,’

When Yahweh

Has not sent them.

Yet they wait

For the fulfillment

Of their word.

Have you not seen

A false vision?

Have you not uttered

A lying divination?

You have said.

‘Says Yahweh,’

Even though,

I did not speak.’”

Once again, Yahweh showed a strong opposition to these false prophets who had not repaired any of the walls for the house of Israel. They had not helped Israel prepare for a battle. These prophets have issued false prophetic “so called” divine words. They claimed that they were speaking oracles in the name of Yahweh, when Yahweh had not sent them. They waited for responses from these false visions. They kept lying by saying that Yahweh said this or that, even though Yahweh had not spoken to them.

Against the Israelite mountain high places (Ezek 6:1-6:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the mountains

Of Israel!

Prophesy against them!

Say!

You mountains of Israel!

Hear the word of Yahweh God!

Thus says Yahweh God

To the mountains,

To the hills,

To the ravines,

To the valleys.

I!

I myself!

Will bring a sword

Upon you.

I will destroy

Your high places.’”

The oracles or words of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man, personally. He was to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. Yahweh gave him the words to say to the mountains. However, there was an extension from just the mountains to include the hills, the ravines, and even the valleys. Yahweh himself was going to bring a sword, in order to destroy all the high places, where the worship or cultic practices for the various false gods, particularly Baal, took place.

The false visions of the prophets (Lam 2:14-2:14)

Nun

“Your prophets

Have seen

False visions

For you.

They have seen

Deceptive visions.

They have not exposed

Your iniquity

In order to restore

Your fortunes.

But they have seen

False oracles,

Misleading oracles

For you.”

Now we have an element of guilt. This author blames their situation in Jerusalem on the false and deceptive visions of Yahweh’s prophets. Jeremiah often called them the happy prophets, who saw no harm coming. These prophets never challenged the people and their iniquity. They kept talking about restoration with their false and misleading oracles. It almost seems like this is an attempt to say that the prophets had the wrong visions or oracles from Yahweh, rather than the prophets misunderstood these visions or oracles of Yahweh. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The exile of the king and princes (Lam 2:9-2:9)

Tet

“Her gates have sunk

Into the ground.

Yahweh has ruined them.

He has broken her bars.

Her king

Is among the nations.

Her princes

Are among the nations.

Guidance of the law

Is no more.

Her prophets obtain

No vision

From Yahweh.”

The gates of Jerusalem have sunk into the ground. Yahweh has ruined the bars on the gates that are now broken. The king and the princes have been scattered among the various nations, so that there is no longer any guidance about the law. The prophets no longer have any visions or oracles from Yahweh. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Write a scroll or book (Jer 36:2-36:2)

“Take a scroll!

Write on it

All the words

That I have spoken

To you

Against Israel,

Against Judah,

Against all the nations,

From the day

I spoke to you,

From the days

Of King Josiah

Until today.”

Yahweh tells Jeremiah to write down all the oracles that he told him since the beginning of his prophetic work to the present. He was to get a scroll to write all these oracles that Yahweh had delivered to him against Israel, Judah, and all the nations. He was to go back to the beginning under King Josiah in 626 BCE. Thus this would have been about 20 years worth of Yahweh oracles, with most of it coming when King Josiah was king, since King Jehoiakim had been king for only 4 years. Thus we have some idea about what is in this Book of Jeremiah.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.