They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

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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.

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.

Travel to Egypt (Sir 0:27-0:36)

“When I came to Egypt

In the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes,

I stayed for some time.

I found an opportunity for no little instruction.

It seemed highly necessary

That I should myself

Devote some diligence,

Devote some labor to the translation of this book.

During that time,

I applied my skill

Day and night.

Thus I was able to complete this translation.

I was able to publish the book

For those living abroad

Who wished to gain learning.

That is those

Disposed to live according to the Law.”

Now we learn about this translator.   He states that he came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes. This must mean the Egyptian King Ptolemy VIII, Euergetes. He ascended the throne in the year 170 BCE, together with his brother Philometor, but he soon became sole ruler from 146 to 117 BCE. Thus this translator must have gone to Egypt in 132 BCE, 38 years after 170 BCE. So now we have an exact date. He stayed there for some time. There he labored to translate this book, day and night. He finally completed his translations and published this book as an aid for anyone seeking to live according to the Law.

The righteous Joseph (Wis 10:13-10:14)

“When a righteous man was sold,

Wisdom did not desert him.

She delivered him from sin.

She descended with him

Into the dungeon.

When he was in prison,

She did not leave him,

Until she brought him

The scepter of a kingdom.

He had authority over his masters.

Those who accused him

She showed to be false.

She gave him everlasting honor.”

Without mentioning his name, this section talks about the righteous Joseph, based on the stories in Genesis, chapters 37-41. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. However, wisdom did not abandon this righteous man (δίκαιον). She stayed with him when he was imprisoned in Egypt. However, due to his explanation of dreams, he received a special role in the Egyptian government. Thus he has an everlasting honor or eternal glory (δόξαν αἰώνιον). Of course, all this was accomplished because of wisdom.

Haman pleads with Queen Esther (Esth 7:7-7:7)

“The king rose from the feast in wrath. He went into the palace garden. However, Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther. He saw that the king had determined to destroy him.”

The king was angry and went into the garden. Then Haman saw that his only chance was the queen. He asked her to save his life because he knew the king would probably not forgive him.