Kill the shepherd (Zech 13:7-13:9)

“‘Awake!

O sword!

Against my shepherd!

Against the man

Who is my associate!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Strike the shepherd,

That the sheep

May be scattered.

I will turn my hand

Against the little ones.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In the whole land,

Two thirds shall be cut off.

They shall perish,

One third shall be left alive.

I will put this third

Into the fire.

I will refine them

As one refines silver.

I will test them

As gold is tested.

They will call

On my name.

I will answer them.

I will say.

‘They are my people.’

They will say.

‘Yahweh is my God.’”

Yahweh of hosts wanted to take away the current leaders.  The sword should rise up against them, even if they are associated with Yahweh.  The shepherd leaders should be killed, so that the flock would be scattered.  Yahweh would destroy 2/3rd of this flock of people.  The remaining 1/3rd would have to be refined by fire, just like gold and silver were tested in a furnace.  This remaining 1/3rd remnant would be Yahweh’s people.  They would have Yahweh as their God.  Yahweh would have them as his people.

The coming peace (Zech 8:11-8:13)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘But now I will not deal

With the remnant

Of this people

As in the former days.

Now there shall be

A sowing of peace.

The vine

Shall yield its fruit.

The ground

Shall give its produce.

The skies

Shall give their dew.

I will cause

The remnant of this people

To possess all these things.

Just as you have been a curse

Among the nations,

O house of Judah!

O house of Israel!

Thus,

I will save you.

You shall be a blessing.

Do not be afraid!

But let your hands be strong!’”

Yahweh of hosts was going to deal with his people, but not like in the former days.  Now Yahweh was going to sow peace.  Their vines would yield much fruit.  Their ground would produce rich harvests.  Their skies would send down gentle rain and dew.  The remnant of the people would possess all these things.  Just as many countries had cursed them in the past, now Judah and Israel would be a blessing to many countries.  They should not be afraid, but continue with their strong hands.

They remnant (Zech 8:6-8:6)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Even though it seems impossible

To the remnant of the people

In these days,

Should it also seem impossible

To me?’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh of hosts, via Zechariah, said that it was not impossible that there would be a remnant of his people, since it was not impossible with Yahweh.

The defeat of the various Philistine cities (Jer 47:5-47:7)

“Baldness has come

Upon Gaza.

Ashkelon is silenced.

O remnant of their power!

How long

Will you gash yourselves?

O!

Sword of Yahweh!

How long

Until you are quiet?

Put yourself

Into your scabbard!

Rest!

Be still!

How can it be quiet?

Yahweh has given it

A charge

Against Ashkelon,

Against the seashore.

There he has appointed it.”

This short chapter on the Philistines ends with the mention of a couple of the five main Philistine cities, mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13. Ashkelon and Gaza were still standing, but as defeated cities, as Jeremiah mentioned here. Gaza was bald and Ashkelon was silent, since they were only a remnant of their former power. How long would they be in mourning? Would Yahweh put his sword away? These seaside cities were in ruin. Gath and Ashdod were not mentioned here, because they were completely destroyed by the Egyptians in the 7th century BCE.

The questions for the Judeans (Jer 44:7-44:8)

“Now thus says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Why are you doing

Such great harm

To yourselves?

Why are you cutting

Yourself off from

Men,

Women,

Infants,

As well as children

From the midst of Judah?

Why are you

Leaving yourself no remnant?

Why do you provoke me

To anger

With the works of your hands?

Why are you making offerings

To other gods

In the land of Egypt

Where you have come to settle?

Will you be cut off?

Will you become

An object of cursing?

Will you become a ridicule

Among all the nations

Of the earth?’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, has a series of questions for these immigrant Judeans. Why were they harming themselves? Why were they cutting themselves off from the other Judeans, the men, women, children, and infants? If they continued in this way, there would be no remnant left. Why were they provoking Yahweh to anger with their own hands? Why were they already making offerings to other gods in Egypt, where they wanted to settle? Are they going to become an object of cursing and ridicule among all the other countries of the world? These are good questions for the new Judean immigrants to Egypt.

All the Judeans in Egypt (Jer 44:1-44:1)

“The word came

To Jeremiah

For all the Judeans

Living in the land

Of Egypt,

At Migdol,

At Tahpanhes,

At Memphis,

As well as in the land of Pathros.”

Jeremiah received an oracle that was to be addressed to all the Judeans living in Egypt. No longer was this a small group of the remnant led by Johanan at Tahpanhes, but this was addressed to all the other Judeans living in different cities and places in Egypt. How did these Judeans get there? How big were these Israelite colonies? Were they left over from Exodus times? Were they also recent immigrants? The remnant group with Jeremiah and Baruch at Tahpanhes had just arrived. Were there other Judeans before they arrived in that town? Migdol was an island in the Nile River, east of Tahpanhes. Memphis was the ancient capital of lower Egypt, in the Nile River delta area. Pathros was also in the southern part of Egypt where Judean colonies might have been. As these places are mentioned, the assumption is that there must have been some other Judeans there. At least the author of this work knew something about them. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 51, not chapter 44 as here.

Johanan asks Jeremiah for help (Jer 42:1-42:3)

“Then all the commanders

Of the forces,

With Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

Also with Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

All the people,

From the least

To the greatest,

Approached

The prophet Jeremiah.

They said to him.

‘Be good enough

To listen

To our plea!

Pray to Yahweh!

Your God!

For us!

For all this remnant!

There are only a few

Of us left

Out of the many,

As you can see.

Let Yahweh

Your God

Show us

Where we should go!

What we should do!’”

Apparently this small group of Judeans, with the leaders Johanan and Azariah decided to approach Jeremiah. As he had been released to the protection of Governor Gedaliah, he probably was at Mizpah while the attack of Ishmael had taken place. Thus he was with the freed group at Gibeon. Interesting enough, they referred to Yahweh as Jeremiah’s God not their God. They wanted Jeremiah to intercede for them with Yahweh, as Moses had done centuries earlier. They were only a small group or remnant of what had been many people. They wanted to know where they should go and what to do. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 49 and 50, not chapter 42 as here.