The day of retribution for Yahweh (Jer 46:10-46:12)

“That day is

The day of Yahweh!

God of hosts!

A day of retribution

To gain vindication

From his foes!

The sword shall devour!

The sword shall be sated!

The sword shall drink

Its fill of their blood!

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Holds a sacrifice

In the land of the north

By the Euphrates River.

Go up to Gilead!

Take balm!

O virgin daughter Egypt!

In vain,

You have used

Many medicines.

There is no healing for you.

The nations have heard

Of your shame.

The earth is full

Of your cry.

The warrior has stumbled

Against warrior.

They have both fallen together.”

The day of reckoning for Yahweh was the defeat of Egypt. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh are pro-Babylon and anti-Egypt. This will be a day of retribution and vindication against Yahweh’s foes. The sword will devour them and drink their blood, like a sacrifice in this land north of the Euphrates River. This virgin daughter Egypt would find it useless to seek any medicines to cure her. Not even the balms of Gilead would help Egypt. There will be no healing. Everyone would have heard of their shame and their cries. Their warriors have stumbled against each other as they fell.

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.

Ishmael kills Gedaliah at Mizpah (Jer 41:2-41:3)

“Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

With his ten men

Got up.

They struck down

Governor Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

The son of Shaphan,

With the sword.

They killed him.

Because the king of Babylon

Had appointed him

Governor in the land.

Ishmael also killed

All the Judeans

Who were with

Governor Gedaliah

At Mizpah.

They also killed

The Chaldean soldiers

Who happened to be there.”

This is similar to 2 Kings, chapter 25. As they were eating, Ishmael rose up against Governor Gedaliah and killed him with a sword. Ishmael was mad, either because he was passed over by not being named governor or at the Babylonians for taking his king, King Zedekiah. Either way, he and his 10 men killed everyone that was with Governor Gedaliah at Mizpah, both all the Judeans and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.

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.

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.

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 fatal undignified future of the people (Jer 16:3-16:4)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning the sons,

As well as the daughters,

Of those born in this place.

The same fate awaits the mothers

Who bore them

As well as the fathers

Who begot them in this land.

They shall die of deadly diseases.

They shall not be lamented.

They shall not be buried.

They shall become

Like dung on the surface of the ground.

They shall perish

By the sword,

Or by famine.

Their dead bodies

Shall become food

For the birds of the air.

Their dead bodies

Shall become food

For the wild animals of the earth.”

Yahweh was clear to Jeremiah. This saying was meant for the sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers of the people in this place. The same terrible fate awaited them all. They were going to die of deadly diseases, which would not have been that uncommon. However, there would be no one to lament them or bury them. Their bodies would lie in the fields like fertilizer dung on the ground. Thus they would not receive a proper burial. They would die either by sword or famine. Their dead bodies would lay in the streets and fields to become food for the birds and the wild animals. This would not be a pretty sight.