Bad things coming to those in Jerusalem (Jer 29:17-29:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I am going to let loose on them

The sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them

Like rotten figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten.

I will pursue them

With the sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them a horror

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be an object of

Cursing,

Horror,

As well as hissing.

They will be a reproach

Among all the nations

Where I have driven them.

They did not heed my words.’

Says Yahweh.

‘When I persistently sent to you

My servants,

The prophets.

But they would not listen.’

Says Yahweh.

‘But now!

All you exiles!

Whom I sent away

From Jerusalem

To Babylon!

Hear the word of Yahweh!”

Yahweh was not going to let the people who had been left in Jerusalem off the hook. They were to suffer the fate of the sword, famine, or pestilence. They would become like rotten figs that could not be eaten, so that they would be a horror. This is almost word for word what was said in chapter 24, where Yahweh talked about the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. They would be cursed, horrible, and hissed wherever they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence because they had not listened to the words of Yahweh. Now Jeremiah warned the exiles themselves to listen to the word of Yahweh.

Jeremiah explains the role of a prophet (Jer 28:6-28:9)

“The prophet Jeremiah said.

‘Amen!

May Yahweh do so!

May Yahweh fulfill

The words

That you have prophesied.

May he bring back

To this place

From Babylon

The vessels

Of the house of Yahweh,

With all the exiles.

But listen now

To this word

That I speak in your hearing,

In the hearing of all the people.

The prophets

Who preceded you,

As well as me,

From ancient times

Prophesied war,

Prophesied famine,

Prophesied pestilence

Against many countries,

Against great kingdoms.

As for the prophet

Who prophesies peace,

When the word of

That prophet comes true,

Then it will be known

That Yahweh

Has truly sent this prophet.’”

Jeremiah admitted that maybe Yahweh would fulfill the words of Hananiah that the exiles and the sacred vessels would return to Jerusalem from Babylon. However, Jeremiah reminded everybody that the prophets of the past quite often prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and kingdoms. If there was a true peace, then they would all know that Yahweh had sent this prophet of peace.

King Zedekiah was to serve the Babylonian king (Jer 27:12-27:13)

“I spoke to King Zedekiah

Of Judah

In the same way.

‘Bring your necks

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Serve him!

Serve his people!

Live!

Why should you,

With your people,

Die

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence?

Yahweh has spoken

Concerning any nation

That will not serve

The king of Babylon.”

Jeremiah says that he spoke to King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) who had been put on the throne by the King of Babylon. Jeremiah told King Zedekiah to put his neck unde the yoke of this Babylonian king. He was to serve him and his people. Thus he would live. Why should they die by the sword, famine, or pestilence? Yahweh had said that this was to be the fate of those who did not serve the king of Babylon.

The threat of Yahweh (Jer 27:8-27:8)

“‘But if any nation or kingdom

Will not serve this king,

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,

I will punish that nation or kingdom.

If they will not put their necks

Under the yoke

Of the king of Babylon,

I will punish that nation

With the sword,

With famine,

With pestilence,

Until I have completed

Its destruction

By his hand.’

Says Yahweh.”

In this oracle of Yahweh, via Jeremiah, if any country would not serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (605-562 BCE), Yahweh was going to punish them. If they were not willing to wear the yoke of the Babylonian king, Yahweh would punish them either by the sword, famine, or pestilence. This punishment would exist as long as it took for the Babylonian king to destroy them. This was a clear mandate of Yahweh in favor of the good King Nebuchadnezzar. Those who rebelled against him would be punished.

The basket of bad figs (Jer 24:8-24:10)

“But thus says Yahweh.

‘Like the bad figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten,

So will I treat King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

His officials,

The remnant of Jerusalem

Who remain in this land,

As well as those

Who live in the land of Egypt.

I will make them a horror.

I will make them an evil thing

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be

A disgrace,

A byword,

A taunt,

A curse

In all the places

Where I shall drive them.

I will send the sword,

Famine,

Pestilence

Upon them.

They shall be utterly destroyed

From the land

That I gave to them

As well as to their ancestors.’”

Next Yahweh gave Jeremiah the explanation about the uneatable bad figs. In particular, he cited King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) who became the titular king subservient to Babylon after the first exile in 598 BCE. Yahweh compared these bad figs to the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. Like King Zedekiah, they were traitors or betrayers. Yahweh also mentioned those who had gone to Egypt as evil horrible ones also. They would be known to all the various countries as a disgrace, a byword. They would be taunted and cursed, no matter where they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence until they were completely wiped out. They would never inherit the land that they and their ancestors had. It seems that non-exiles had a worse fate than those who went into exile.

The choice of life or death (Jer 21:8-21:9)

“To this people

You shall say.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

‘See!

I am setting before you

The way of life

Or the way of death.

Those who stay in this city

Shall die by the sword,

By famine,

Or by pestilence.

But those who go out,

Those who surrender to the Chaldeans,

Who are besieging you,

Shall live.

They shall have their lives

As a prize of war.’”

Yahweh told Jeremiah to tell the people of Jerusalem that they had a choice of life or death. If they stayed in the city, they would die by the sword, famine, or pestilence. However, if they surrendered to the Chaldeans, who had surrounded the city, they would live. They should consider their lives a prize of war.

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 four options (Jer 15:2-15:2)

“When they ask you.

‘Where shall we go?’

You shall say to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

‘Those destined for pestilence,

Go to pestilence!

Those destined for the sword,

Go to the sword!

Those destined for famine,

Go to the famine!

Those destined for captivity,

Go to captivity.’”

Yahweh told Jeremiah that these people had 4 options. They would either end up dying from pestilence, the sword, famine, or captivity. It seems like the sword was the quickest and the most fatal. The other options were more long lasting punishments, but some of them might be able to survive these punishments.

Yahweh will not accept their offerings (Jer 14:11-14:12)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Do not pray

For the welfare of this people.

Although they fast,

I do not hear their cry.

Although they offer burnt offerings,

I will not accept them.

Although they offer grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

But I will consume them

By the sword,

By famine,

By pestilence.’”

Yahweh continues to show his displeasure for the people of Judah, when he spoke to Jeremiah. Yahweh told Jeremiah not to pray or intercede for these people and their welfare. If they fasted, he would not hear their cries. If they brought burnt, grain, or cereal offerings, he would not accept them. Yahweh was clear. They were going to be consumed by the sword, famine, or pestilence. There was no hope for them.

The environment (Sir 39:28-39:31)

“There are winds.

They have been created

For vengeance.

In their anger,

They can dislodge mountains.

On the day of reckoning,

They will pour out their strength.

They will calm

The anger of their Maker.

Fire has been created

For vengeance.

Hail has been created

For vengeance.

Famine has been created

For vengeance.

Pestilence has been created

For vengeance.

The following delight in doing his bidding.

The fangs of wild animals,

Scorpions,

Vipers,

And the sword that punishes

The ungodly with destruction.

They are always ready

For his service on earth.

When their time comes,

They never disobey his command.”

Sirach says that the environmental follows the command of the Lord. The winds can dislodge mountains with their strength in order to calm the Lord’s wrath. Fire, hail, famine, and pestilence show the vengeance of the Lord. Wild animal fangs, scorpions, vipers, and swords will punish the ungodly. All these things are ready to obey the command of the Lord here on earth when the time comes for destruction, since they never disobey the Lord.