Hear the word of Yahweh!
All you Judeans
Who live in the land of Egypt!
By my great name!’
‘My name shall no longer
On the lips
Of any of the people of Judah
In all the land of Egypt.’
‘As Yahweh God lives,
I am going to watch
Not for good.
All the people of Judah
Who are in the land of Egypt
By the sword
Until no one is left.
Those who escape the sword
From the land of Egypt
To the land of Judah,
Few in number.
All the remnant of Judah,
Who came to the land of Egypt
Whose words will stand,
Mine or theirs!’”
Yahweh, via Jeremiah, lets the Judeans in Egypt know about their punishment. They will no longer call Yahweh, their God. Yahweh was going to bring them harm, not good things. They were all going to die by the sword or famine, until no one was left there. Then there was a caveat, if some did escape from the wrath of Yahweh, they would be very few in number. They were going to know whose words had more power. Yahweh made it very personal with the taunt about which word was going to stand, theirs or his.
“When Yahweh has given you rest
From your pain,
From your turmoil,
From your hard service,
You were made to serve,
You will take up this taunt
Against the king of Babylon.”
Many believe that this may have been a taunt by Isaiah against the dead King Sargon II, who died in 705 BCE after ruling from 722 BCE. Later it was used against King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BCE). It assumes that the Israelites had returned from the Exile. They had some rest from their pain, turmoil, and hard service. Now they were able to taunt the king of Babylon.
“My days pass away like smoke.
My bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken.
My heart is withered like grass.
I am too wasted to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
My bones cling to my flesh.
I am like an owl of the wilderness.
I am like a little owl of the waste places.
I lie awake.
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
All day long my enemies taunt me.
Those who deride me
Use my name for a curse.
I eat ashes like bread.
I mingle tears with my drink.
Because of your indignation and anger,
You have lifted me up,
You have thrown me aside.
My days are like an evening shadow.
I wither away like grass.”
This psalmist is in a terrible situation. His days are passing away like smoke. His bones are burning. His heart is broken and withering like grass. He cannot even eat. His bones are clinging to his skin since he is all skin and bones. He is like an owl or a lonely bird since he cannot sleep. His enemies taunt him every day as they use his name as a curse word. He eats ashes instead of bread. He drinks his own tears. Yahweh seems to be angry and indignant as he has been thrown aside. His days are like evening shadows and withering grass. He is in over all bad shape.
A psalm of Asaph
The nations have come into your inheritance.
They have defiled your holy temple.
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
To the birds of the air for food.
The flesh of your faithful has been given
To the wild animals of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water,
All around Jerusalem.
There was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors.
We are mocked.
We are derided
By those around us.”
Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph. This national lamentation deplores the defeat and ruin of Jerusalem and its Temple, probably at the time of the captivity around 587 BCE. The bodies of the faithful were given over to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Their blood was all around Jerusalem. No one was there to bury them. The Israelites had become a taunt to their neighbors. They were mocked and derided by everybody around them.
“It is not enemies who taunt me.
I could bear that.
It is not adversaries
Who deal insolently with me.
I could hide from them.
But it is you,
My familiar friend
I kept pleasant company with you.
We walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them.
Let them go down alive to Sheol.
Evil is in their homes.
Evil is in their hearts.”
Now David derides his former friends. His enemies and adversaries have always taunted him and been mean to him. He understood that and could hide from them. The problem was that it was his former friends who were against him. These were his equals, his companions, his good buddies. He had great conversations with them. He enjoyed their company. They used to worship together in the Temple. This was the great betrayal. David may be thinking of the uprising of his son Absalom against him. His response to them was very stark. He wanted them dead. He wanted them to go to hell. He wanted them to go to Sheol, the underground place of death while still living. This was very harsh because he beloved that they had evil in their houses and hearts.
“But I said. ‘Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save my life? I will not go in!’ Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him at all. He had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this purpose. He wanted to intimidate me. He wanted to make me sin by acting in this way so that they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.
‘Remember Tobiah and Sanballat,
O my God,
According to these things that they did,
And also the prophetess Noadiah
And the rest of the prophets
Who wanted to make me afraid.’”
Nehemiah responded by saying that he would not run away. In fact, he said that Shemaiah was a false prophet hired by Tobiah and Sanballat. How he knew about that is not clear, except that he perceived it. However, he realized that by going into the Temple, it would be sinful. They were all trying to make Nehemiah afraid. Once again, Nehemiah ended with a prayer. He asked God to remember what Tobiah and Sanballat had done. He wanted God to remember the prophetess Noadiah, who is only mentioned here. Interesting there is no comment about the false prophet Shemaiah. All these false prophets were trying to make Nehemiah afraid.