The three separate disasters for the people of Jerusalem (Ezek 5:11-5:12)

“Says Yahweh God!

‘Surely as I live,

Because you have defiled

My sanctuary

With all your detestable things,

With all your abominations,

Therefore I will cut you down.

My eye will not spare.

I will have no pity.

One third of you

Shall die

Of pestilence,

Or be consumed

By famine among you.

One third of you

Shall fall

By the sword

Around you.

One third of you,

I will scatter

To every wind.

I will unsheathe

The sword

After them.”

The God Yahweh was mad at the people of Jerusalem. They had defiled his sanctuary. They had brought in all those detestable abominations into the Temple. Thus Yahweh was not going to spare them, but cut them down. He was not going to show any pity. Using language similar to Jeremiah, there were three main options for dying. However, Ezekiel was more precise. One third of them would die from pestilence or famine. Another third would fall by the sword. The final third would be scattered to the winds in every direction. Yahweh was going to let his sword loose on them.

The punishment in Egypt (Jer 44:13-44:14)

“I will punish

Those who live

In the land of Egypt,

As I have punished Jerusalem,

With the sword,

With famine,

With pestilence.

Thus none

Of the remnant of Judah

Who have come

To settle

In the land of Egypt

Shall escape,

Or survive,

Or return

To the land of Judah.

Although they long

To go back

To live there,

They shall not go back,

Except some fugitives.”

In a twist of irony, Yahweh was going to punish the Judeans who had left Judah to settle in Egypt. Just as he had punished the Egyptians centuries earlier so that the Israelites could leave Egypt, he now will punish the Judeans who came to live in Egypt. Thus this great symbiotic relationship of the Israelites and the Egyptians continues, even until the present day. Yahweh was determined to punish this remnant from Judah, as he had punished Jerusalem, with his often repeated 3 weapons, the sword, famine, and pestilence. None of these Judean remnants would escape or survive to return to their beloved Judah. The only exception would be those who

In a twist of irony, Yahweh was going to punish the Judeans who had left Judah to settle in Egypt. Just as he had punished the Egyptians centuries earlier so that the Israelites could leave Egypt, he now will punish the Judeans who came to live in Egypt. Thus this great symbiotic relationship of the Israelites and the Egyptians continues, even until the present day. Yahweh was determined to punish this remnant from Judah, as he had punished Jerusalem, with his often repeated 3 weapons, the sword, famine, and pestilence. None of these Judean remnants would escape or survive to return to their beloved Judah. The only exception would be those who turned out to be fugitives.

turned out to be fugitives.

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.

King Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (Jer 43:11-43:13)

“‘King Nebuchadnezzar

Shall come.

He shall ravage

The land of Egypt.

Giving those who are doomed

For pestilence,

To pestilence.

Giving those who are destined

For captivity.

To captivity.

Giving those who are doomed

For the sword

To the sword.

He shall kindle a fire

In the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them.

He shall carry them away captive.

He shall pick clean

The land of Egypt,

As a shepherd picks

His cloaks clean of vermin.

He shall depart

From there safely.

He shall break

The obelisks of Heliopolis

That is in the land of Egypt.

He shall break the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them with fire.’”

Jeremiah described what was going to happen when King Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt, which he did around 568 BCE. The Babylonian king was going to ravage the land of Egypt. Those who were destined for pestilence got pestilence. Those destined for the sword, got the sword. Those destined for famine, got a famine. This was real simple, but who decided who was destined for what? King Nebuchadnezzar was going to burn down the Egyptian temples and make the Judeans captives. He was going to pick the land clean in the same way that shepherds pluck bugs off their cloaks or coats. He would come and go safely. However, he would also break the ornate pillars or obelisks in the town of Heliopolis, the city of the sun worshipers, which was about 25 miles east of Memphis, 6 mile northeast of Cairo. He would also burn down the Egyptian temples and their gods, as well as tear down other pillars throughout the land of Egypt.

Do not go to Egypt (Jer 42:19-42:22)

“Yahweh has said to you.

‘O remnant of Judah!

Do not go to Egypt!’

Be well aware

That I have warned you

Today!

You have made

A fatal mistake!

You yourselves sent me

To Yahweh your God.

Saying.

‘Pray for us

To Yahweh our God!

Whatever Yahweh our God

Says

Tell us!

We will do it.’

So I have told you

Today

But you have not obeyed

The voice

Of Yahweh your God

In anything

That he sent me to tell you.

Be well aware

That you shall die

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence

In the place

Where you desire to go,

Where you desire to live.’”

Not only is Yahweh upset, but so is Jeremiah. Yahweh had told Jeremiah what he wanted. This remnant of Judah had gone to Jeremiah to find out God’s will. Now that Jeremiah has pronounced Yahweh’s will, they did not like it. Yahweh’s response was simple. Do not go to Egypt! If they would go, they would make a fatal mistake. Jeremiah has warned them. They had, in fact, asked Jeremiah to intercede with Yahweh, so that they might know what to do. They said that they would do whatever Yahweh wanted. After Jeremiah came back with the words of Yahweh, they would not accept it, since they did not like the response. Suddenly, it was a different situation. Now they wanted to disobey by going to Egypt. Thus as Jeremiah so often remarked, they would die by the famous sword, famine, or pestilence in the land that they desired to go to live, Egypt. There was no ambiguity here.

The punishment for going to Egypt (Jer 42:15-42:17)

“Then hear

The word of Yahweh!

O remnant of Judah!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘If you are determined

To enter Egypt,

Go settle there!

Then the sword

That you fear

Shall overtake you there,

In the land of Egypt.

The famine

That you dread

Shall follow close after you

Into Egypt.

There you shall die!

All the people

Who have determined

To go to Egypt

To settle there

Shall die

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence.

They shall have

No remnant,

No survivor

From the disaster

That I am bringing upon them.’”

Jeremiah repeats the words of Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel. If they are determined to go to Egypt and settle there, they will die there. The famine that they dread so much will overtake them in Egypt. They will die there by any of the 3 famous ways of sword, famine, or pestilence. They will be no survivors there, nobody to carry on their name. Yahweh would bring disaster on them in Egypt.

Live or die (Jer 38:2-38:3)

“Thus says Yahweh!

‘Those who stay

In this city

Shall die

By the sword,

By famine,

Or by pestilence.

But those who go out

To the Chaldeans

Shall live.

They shall have their lives

As a prize of war.

They will live.’

Thus says Yahweh!

‘This city shall surely

Be handed over

To the army

Of the king of Babylon.

It shall be taken.’”

Jeremiah delivered an oracle of Yahweh that said that they had a choice, stay in the city and die or live by surrendering to the Babylonians. If they remained in the city of Jerusalem, they would die by the sword, famine, or pestilence, the 3 common ways of dying. However, they would live, if they surrendered to the Chaldeans. They would save their lives as a reward, thus a prize of war. This is practically identical to what was said in chapter 21. Jeremiah was clear. The city of Jerusalem was going to fall into the military hands of the king of Babylon, one way or another.

Breaking the covenant agreement (Jer 34:17-34:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh!

‘You have not obeyed me

By granting a release

To your neighbors,

As well as to your friends.

I am going to

Grant a release to you,

A release to the sword,

A release to pestilence,

A release to famine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make you a horror

To all the kingdoms

Of the earth.

Those who transgressed

My covenant,

Those who did not

Keep the terms

Of the covenant

That they made before me,

I will make them

Like the calf

When they cut it in two.

As they passed

Between its parts.’”

The people of Jerusalem had not obeyed Yahweh about freeing up their Hebrew slaves. Now Yahweh was going to free them to the sword, pestilence, and famine, the common formula of Jeremiah for destruction. They would become a horror for all the countries in the world. They had broken their covenant with Yahweh. They had not kept the terms of the covenant agreement, since they had re-enslaved the freed Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. The ancient practice of cutting or sacrificing an animal into two pieces was a way of ratifying an agreement, as can be seen in Genesis, chapter 15. Then the two people would walk between the two pieces of the calf to indicate that if they broke the agreement, they too would be killed. Thus these disobedient ones who broke the covenant were subject to death, just as the calf had been killed and cut up.

The end of Jerusalem (Jer 32:36-32:36)

“Now therefore

Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Concerning this city

About which you say.

‘It is given

Into the hand

Of the king of Babylon

By sword,

By famine,

By pestilence.’”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, clearly says that Jerusalem, his city, will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon. He will accomplish this, as per usual, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.

The attack of the Chaldeans (Jer 32:24-32:25)

“See!

The siege ramps

Have been cast up

Against the city

To take it.

The city is faced

With sword,

With famine,

With pestilence.

The city has been

Given into the hands

Of the Chaldeans

Who are fighting against it.

What you spoke

Has happened.

As you yourself can see.

Yet you!

O Lord God!

You have said to me.

‘Buy the field

For money!

Get witnesses!’

Even though the city has been

Given into the hands

Of the Chaldeans.’”

The prayer of Jeremiah continued as he came to the present day situation of the attack by the Chaldeans, a Semitic people from the southeastern section of Babylon on the Euphrates River. The siege ramps were already in place against Jerusalem. The Chaldeans had come to take this city by sword, famine, or pestilence. What Yahweh had predicted, has happened. The Chaldeans have already taken over this city, as anyone can see with their own eyes. Yahweh had told Jeremiah to buy a field with money and witnesses, even though the city was in the hands of the Chaldeans. This purchase was a sign of hope for the future.