The war club of Yahweh (Jer 51:20-51:23)

“You are my war club!

You are my hammer!

My weapon of battle!

With you

I smash nations.

With you

I destroy kingdoms.

With you

I smash the horse.

With you

I smash its rider.

With you

I smash the chariot.

With you

I smash the charioteer.

With you

I smash men.

With you

I smash women.

With you

I smash the old man.

With you

I smash the boy.

With you

I smash the young man.

With you

I smash the girl.

With you

I smash the shepherds.

With you

I smash their flock.

With you

I smash the farmers.

With you

I smash their teams.

With you

I smash the governors.

With you

I smash their deputies.”

Yahweh is the war club or hammer that smashes everything. Thus with Yahweh, Jeremiah can smash nations, kingdoms, horses, riders, chariots, charioteers, men, women, old men, boys, young men, girls, shepherds, their flocks, farmers, their teams, governors, and their deputies. Yahweh is a strong weapon that can smash practically everything.

The plan against Babylon (Jer 50:45-50:46)

“Therefore hear the plan

That Yahweh has made

Against Babylon!

Hear the purposes

That he has formed

Against the land

Of the Chaldeans!

Surely the little ones

Of the flock

Shall be dragged away.

Surely their fold

Shall be appalled

At their fate.

At the sound

Of the capture

Of Babylon,

The earth shall tremble.

Her cry shall be heard

Among the nations.”

Once again, this is the like the preceding chapter against the Edomites. Instead of the Edom, Babylon is inserted. Yahweh clearly wants to get rid of the Chaldeans.   Even the little ones would be dragged away. The shepherds and the sheep would be appalled at what was happening. The fall of the Babylonians would be so loud that the earth would tremble like an earthquake. The sounds of their cries from Babylon would be heard among all the nations.

Powerful Yahweh (Jer 50:44-50:44)

“Like a lion

Coming up

From the thickets

Of the Jordan River

Against a perennial pasture,

I will suddenly

Chase them

Away from her.

I will appoint over her

Whomever I choose.

Who is like me?

Who can summon me?

Who is the shepherd

That can stand before me?”

Interesting enough, this section is almost word for word what Yahweh said against the Edomites in the preceding chapter. These Babylonians would be like lions that come out of the thickets on the Jordan River to find a beautiful pasture land. Suddenly, Yahweh would chase them away from this perennial green field. There is no one like Yahweh. Who could oppose him? The shepherds had no chance against Yahweh.

The devoured lost sheep (Jer 50:6-50:7)

“My people

Have been

Like lost sheep.

Their shepherds

Have led them astray.

They turned them away

On the mountains.

From mountain

To hill,

They have gone.

They have forgotten

Their fold.

All who found them

Have devoured them.

Their enemies have said.

‘We are not guilty!

Because they have sinned

Against Yahweh,

Their true pastor,

Their lord,

The hope of their ancestors.’”

The people of Israel and Judah were like lost sheep. Their shepherds or leaders had led them astray. They let these sheep loose in the mountains where they wandered around from hill to mountain, forgetting about the rest of the flock. Anyone who found them killed them and ate them. The response of these enemy snatchers was that they were not guilty, because these sheep and their shepherds had sinned against Yahweh, the true pastor and hope of their ancestors. Thus they justified their actions against them.

The plan of Yahweh for Edom (Jer 49:19-49:20)

“Like a lion

Coming up

From the thickets

Of the Jordan River

Against a perennial pasture,

I will suddenly

Chase Edom

Away from it.

I will appoint over it

Whomever I choose.

Who is like me?

Who can summon me?

Who is the shepherd

That can stand before me?

Therefore hear the plan

That Yahweh has made

Against Edom!

Hear the purposes

That he has formed

Against the inhabitants

Of Teman!

Surely the little ones

Of the flock

Shall be dragged away.

Surely their fold

Shall be appalled

At their fate.”

Yahweh has a precise plan for Edom. These Edomites were like lions that come out of the thickets on the Jordan River to find a beautiful pasture land. Suddenly Yahweh would chase Edom away from this perennial green field. There is no one like Yahweh. Who could oppose him? The shepherds had no chance against Yahweh. He clearly wants to get rid of the town of Teman, the Edomite clan around the southern Edomite town of Petra. Even the little ones would be dragged away. The shepherds and the sheep would be appalled at what was happening. Clearly the power of Yahweh was apparent.

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.

No refuge for the shepherds (Jer 25:34-25:38)

“Wail!

You shepherds!

Cry out!

Roll in ashes!

You lords of the flock!

The days of your slaughter

Have come.

The days of your dispersions

Have come.

You shall fall

Like a choice vessel.

Flight shall fail the shepherds.

There shall be no escape

For the lords of the flock.

Hark!

The cry of the shepherds!

The wail of the lords of the flock!

Yahweh is despoiling their pasture.

The peaceful folds are devastated.

Because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.

Like a lion,

He has left his covert.

Their land has become a waste

Because of the cruel sword,

Because of his fierce anger.”

Yahweh continues his diatribe against the rulers in Judah. These leaders or shepherds should cry out and roll in ashes. The days of slaughter have come when they will be dispersed. They are going to fall like a chosen vessel. The shepherds will not be able to flee. The lords of the flock will not escape. Both the shepherds and the lords of the flock will cry out because Yahweh is going to ruin their pasture. These peaceful flocks and folds will be devastated. Yahweh was angry like a lion that has left its covert of little cubs. The land will become a wasteland because of the anger and the sword of Yahweh.

The coming invasion (Jer 6:1-6:3)

“Flee for safety!

O children of Benjamin!

From the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa!

Raise a signal on Beth-haccherem!

Evil looms out of the north!

Great destruction looms out of the north!

I have likened

My daughter Zion

To the loveliest pasture.

Shepherds with their flocks

Shall come against her.

They shall pitch their tents

Around her.

They shall pasture.

All in their places.”

Jeremiah warns the people of Benjamin, who were just north of Judah and Jerusalem. He wanted them to sound the trumpet at Tekoa, which was about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. Meanwhile at Beth-haccherem, about 2 miles south of Jerusalem, they were to raise a signal. There would be an attack on Jerusalem. The problem was that evil and great destruction was coming from the north. Zion and her lovely pastures would be threatened by shepherds who would surround them with pitched tents. This was an allusion to the armies and kings that were going to surround the towns and fields of Judah.

Strangers at work (Isa 61:5-61:5)

“Strangers shall stand.

They shall feed your flocks.

Foreigners shall till your land.

They will dress your vines.”

In an odd assertion, it seems that strangers or foreigners would do the menial work for the Israelites. These strangers would be the shepherds of the flocks in the field. They would do the field labor of tilling the land and clipping the grape vines. It seems that the Israelites would be so prosperous that they could hire people or have slaves do the things that they did not want to do.

Against corrupt leaders (Isa 56:9-56:12)

“All you wild animals!

All you wild animals in the forest!

Come to devour!

Israel’s sentinels are blind.

They are all without knowledge.

They are all silent dogs.

They cannot bark.

They are dreaming.

They are lying down.

They love to slumber.

The dogs have a mighty appetite.

They never have enough.

The shepherds also have no understanding.

They have all turned to their own way.

They have turned to their own gain,

One and all.

‘Come!’

They say.

‘Let us get wine!

Let us fill ourselves with strong drink!

Tomorrow will be like today!

It will be great beyond measure.’”

Third Isaiah has a diatribe against the Israelite corrupt leaders. They are like wild animals that have come to devour the people. The sentinels or watchmen of Israel are the blind prophets who seem to have no knowledge of anything. These so-called prophets are like silent dogs that do not bark. All they do is lay around dreaming in their sleep, but they have a mighty appetite. The shepherds are the rulers who have no understanding of anything. All they care about is their own gains. All they want to do is sit around and drink strong wine. Their motto is that things will be greater tomorrow, so do not worry about today. These are the corrupt leaders of Israel.