The open shame of the people (Dan 9:7-9:8)

“O Lord!

Righteousness

Is on your side.

But at this day,

Open shame

Falls on us,

The people

Of Judah,

The inhabitants

Of Jerusalem,

All Israel.

This includes

Those who are near,

As well as those

Who are far away,

In all the lands

To which

You have driven them,

Because of the treachery

That they have committed

Against you.

O Lord!

Open shame

Falls on us,

Our kings,

Our officials,

Our ancestors,

Because we have sinned

Against you.”

Daniel spoke for everybody about their open shame. Righteousness was on the side of the Lord. However, open shame fell on the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, since it did not matter whether they were near or far away. Some were in the lands that the Lord had driven them because of their treachery. Thus, this open shame falls on their kings, their officials, and ancestors, because they had all sinned against God.

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They did not obey (Bar 2:24-2:26)

“But we did not obey

Your voice.

We did not serve

The king of Babylon.

You have carried out

Your threats

That you spoke

By your servants,

The prophets.

The bones of our kings,

The bones of our ancestors

Would be brought out

Of their resting place.

Indeed

They have been

Thrown out

To the heat of day

And the frost of night.

They perished

In great misery,

By famine,

By sword,

By pestilence.

You have made

The house

That is called

By your name

As it is today,

Because of the wickedness

Of the house of Israel,

Of the house of Judah.”

However, they did not obey the voice of the Lord to serve the Babylonian king. Then God carried out the threats that he spoken through his prophetic servants. Thus the bones of their kings and their ancestors were brought out from their graves. They were exposed to the elements of the weather, the heat of day and the frost at night. Meanwhile, they all perished in great misery by either of the 3 famous ways of dying in Jeremiah, the famine, the sword, or the pestilence.  The Temple or the house of God was torn down because of the wickedness in the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The failure to serve God (Bar 2:19-2:20)

“It is not because

Of any righteous deeds

Of our ancestors,

Or our kings

That we bring

Before you

Our prayer

For mercy.

O Lord our God!

You have sent

Your anger

With your wrath

Upon us.

You declared

By your servants

The prophets.”

They had not served God. Their ancestors, their kings, and they themselves had not done righteous deeds. However, they were willing to bring their prayer for mercy to their Lord God. They knew that he had sent his anger and wrath upon them through his servants and prophets.

Yahweh remembers the failures in Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 44:21-44:23)

“As for the offerings

That you made

In the towns of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem,

Did not Yahweh remember them?

That is you with

Your ancestors,

Your kings,

Your officials,

The people of the land,

Did it not come into his mind?

Yahweh could no longer

Bear the sight

Of your evil doings,

The abominations

That you committed.

Therefore your land

Became a desolation,

A waste,

A curse,

Without inhabitants,

As it is to this day.

It is

Because you burned offerings,

Because you sinned

Against Yahweh.

You did not obey

The voice of Yahweh.

You did not

Walk in his law,

Walk in his statutes,

Walk in his decrees.

Thus this disaster

Has befallen you,

As is still evident today.”

Jeremiah justifies the punishment that they have today, based on their idolatrous sacrifices that they, their ancestors, their kings, their officials, and all the people had made earlier in Judah and Jerusalem. Did they think that Yahweh, their God, would forget this? Yahweh could no longer bear the sight of these evil abominations, so that he made their land desolate, a waste, and cursed, without inhabitants until the present time. They had sinned by offering these burnt sacrifices. They did not obey Yahweh. They would not follow his laws, statutes, or decrees. Thus this disaster has come upon them until the present day. Jeremiah thought that these refugees were too defiant against Yahweh.

Offerings to the queen of heaven (Jer 44:17-44:18)

“Instead,

We will do everything

That we have vowed.

We will make offerings

To the queen of heaven.

We will pour out libations

To her.

Just as we,

Our ancestors,

Our kings,

Our officials

Did

In the towns of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem.

We used to have

Plenty of food.

We prospered.

We saw no misfortune.

But from the time

We stopped making offerings

To the queen of heaven

And pouring out libations

To her,

We have lacked everything.

We have perished

By the sword

And by famine.”

The Judean refugees insisted that they would complete their vows to the queen of heaven. They would make offerings and libations to her just as their ancestors, their kings, and their officials had done in Judah and Jerusalem. When they were making these sacrifices, they had plenty of food and prospered. Since they stopped, they have been lacking everything. They have been dying by the sword and famine. Who then was this queen of heaven? For many Catholics, this might be a veiled reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, since there are some Catholic churches with that name, Queen of Heaven. However, this is a clear reference to a popular goddess of fertility since Jeremiah had already mentioned this queen in chapter 7. In both places, here and there, this queen of heaven is a reference to the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar, or the Canaanite goddess Astarte, the wife of the god Baal. The Greek equivalent would have been the goddess Aphrodite or the Roman goddess Venice, the goddess of love. Thus the practice of worshipping to this fertility “Queen of heaven” was quite popular already in Judah and Jerusalem, before they came to Egypt.

The shame of Israel (Jer 2:26-2:28)

“As a thief is shamed when caught,

So the house of Israel shall be shamed.

Their kings shall be shamed.

Their princes shall be shamed.

Their priests shall be shamed.

Their prophets shall be shamed.

Who says to a tree?

‘You are my father.’

Who says to a stone?

‘You gave me birth.’

They have turned their backs to me.

They have not turned their faces to me.

But in the time of their trouble,

They say.

‘Arise!

Save us!’

But where are your gods

That you made for yourself?

Let them come!

See if they can save you

In your time of trouble.

You have as many gods

As you have towns!

O Judah!”

Jeremiah says that the house of Israel should be shamed like a thief who gets caught. This shame includes their kings, officials, priests, and prophets. Think of this, these people were saying to a tree, you are my father. They were saying to a stone that they were born from a stone. They turned their backs on Yahweh, since they would not show their face to him. However, whenever there was a problem, they would come running to Yahweh, asking him to come and save them. Where were their gods that they had made? Let them come and save them. However, they had as many gods as there were towns. Each town in Judah had their own little god image for protection.