The future sign of Ezekiel (Ezek 24:25-24:27)

“You!

Son of man!

On the day

When I take

From them

Their stronghold,

Their joy,

Their glory,

The delight of their eyes,

Their heart’s affection,

Someone will come

To you.

I will take their sons.

I will take their daughters.

On that day,

One who has escaped

Will come

To you

To report

To you

The news.

On that day,

Your mouth

Shall be opened

To the one

Who has escaped.

You shall speak.

You will no longer

Be silent.

So you shall be a sign

To them.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke directly to Ezekiel, the son of man. On a future day, Yahweh was going to bring down Jerusalem. The Israelites would lose their stronghold, their joy, their glory, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s affection. They would also lose their sons and daughters. Someone, who had escaped from Jerusalem, would come to Ezekiel on that day with the report of the news about the fall of Jerusalem. On that day, Ezekiel would open his mouth to speak. He would not be silent anymore. Thus the actions of Ezekiel would a sign, so that everyone would know that Yahweh was in charge.

The fall of the sanctuary and death (Ezek 24:20-24:21)

“Then I said to them.

‘The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

Say to the house of Israel!

Thus says Yahweh God!

I will profane

My sanctuary!

The pride of your power!

The delight of your eyes!

Your heart’s desire!

Your sons,

Whom you have left behind

Shall fall

By the sword.

Your daughters,

Whom you have left behind,

Shall fall

By the sword.’”

Ezekiel then told them what Yahweh had said to him, as the word of Yahweh came to him. He told the house of Israel that Yahweh was going to profane his own sanctuary. This Temple had been the pride of their power, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s desire. However, it would be gone. Their sons and daughters, who had been left behind, would die by the sword. This was not a happy oracle.

The assembly stoning and death (Ezek 23:46-23:49)

“Thus says Yahweh God.

‘Bring up an assembly

Against them!

Make them

An object of terror!

Make them

An object of plunder!

The assembly

Shall stone them!

They shall cut them down

With their swords!

They shall kill their sons!

They shall kill their daughters!

They shall burn up

Their houses!

Thus will I put an end

To lewdness

In the land!

Thus all women

May take warning!

Do not commit lewdness

As you have done!

They shall repay you

For your lewdness.

You shall bear

The penalty

For your sinful idolatry!

You shall know

That I am Yahweh God!’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, was clear that the punishment for this lewd behavior was death. They were to gather an assembly against these wanton women, who were an object of terror and plunder. The assembly was to stone them and cut them down with swords. They were to kill their sons and daughters, as well as burn up their houses. Yahweh was going to put an end to all this lewdness in the land of Israel. This was a very severe punishment. All the women were put on warning. In other words, there was a jump from the bad behavior of the feminine cities of Samaria and Jerusalem to all the Israelite women. They were not to commit lewd acts. If they did, they would be repaid for their bad behavior. They would bear the penalty for their sinful idolatry. Everyone should know that Yahweh was God.

Pestilence (Ezek 14:19-14:20)

“‘Or if I send

A pestilence

Into that land,

I would pour out

My wrath

Upon it

With blood,

To cut off

Humans

With animals

From it.

Even if

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would save

Neither son

Nor daughter.

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Once again, we have the same concept of limited human power. If Yahweh sent a pestilence to the land, the humans and animals would die. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in that land, they would not be able to save their sons or daughters. They would only be able to save their own lives by their own righteousness. Individual righteousness brought individual salvation. The idea of group salvation seems to be diminishing.

A sword upon the land (Ezek 14:17-14:18)

“‘Or if I bring a sword

Upon that land.

I will say.

‘Let a sword

Pass through the land.’

I cut off

Humans

With animals

From it.

Even though

These three men

Were in the land,

As I live,

They would save

Neither sons

Nor daughters.

But they alone

Would be saved.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh continued by talking about bringing a sword to the land, killing humans and animals. However, if these 3 great men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in that land, they would be able to save themselves alone, but they would not be able to save their sons or daughters. This was the same concept repeated again that individuals had limited power over the group.

The shameful sinful behavior (Bar 2:3-2:5)

“Some of us

Ate the flesh

Of their sons.

Others

Ate the flesh

Of their daughters.

He made us subject

To all the kingdoms

Around us.

We were

An object of scorn.

We were a desolation among

All the surrounding people,

Where the Lord

Has scattered us.

We were brought down.

We were not raised up.

Because our nation

Sinned

Against the Lord,

Our God,

In not heeding

His voice.”

Once again, there is allusion to the cannibalism of people, eating their sons and daughters as food because of the famine in Jerusalem, as was mentioned in Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, as well as Jeremiah, chapter 19. They were no longer a nation, because now they obeyed all the other countries around them. They had become an object of scorn and a desolation among all the people and the countries where they were scattered into. They were brought down, not raised up. They had sinned as a nation. Thus they were punished as a nation. They had not listened to the voice of God, their Lord.

The terror in Moab (Jer 48:43-48:46)

“‘Terror!

Pit!

Trap!

They are before you!

O inhabitants of Moab!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Everyone

Who flees from the terror

Shall fall into the pit.

Everyone who climbs

Out of the pit

Shall be caught in the trap.

I will bring these things

Upon Moab,

In the year of their punishment.’

Says Yahweh.

In the shadow of Heshbon,

Fugitives stop exhausted.

A fire has gone out

From Heshbon,

A flame from

The house of Sihon.

It has destroyed

The forehead of Moab,

The scalp of the people

Of tumult.

Woe to you!

O Moab!

The people of Chemosh

Have perished.

Your sons

Have been taken captive.

Your daughters

Have been taken into captivity.”

There would be terror to hit Moab, like the terror of the apocalypse judgment day of Isaiah, chapter 24. Terror was all around with pits and snares to catch people. If they fled, they would fall into a pit. Even if they crawled out of the pit, they would be caught in a trap. There was no escape. They tried to flee to Heshbon, the capital of Ammon, the country north of Moab. However, they were surprised to learn that Heshbon was also on fire. This was the capital city of King Sihon, or house of Sihon, dating back to the days of Joshua, chapter 21. The Moabites would have problems with their foreheads and scalps. They would be cursed, and then perish. The people with their god Chemosh would lose their sons and daughters to captivity.

Jeremiah brings the Rechabites to the Temple (Jer 35:3-35:4)

“So I took Jaazaniah

The son of Jeremiah,

The son of Habazziniah,

With his brothers,

As well as all his sons,

With the whole house

Of the Rechabites.

I brought them

To the house of Yahweh,

Into the chamber

Of the sons of Hanan,

The son of Igdaliah,

The man of God.

This was near

The chamber of the officials,

Above the chamber of Maaseiah,

The son of Shallum,

Keeper of the threshold.”

Jeremiah went out and got the whole house of the Rechabites. This included Jaazaniah, who apparently was the head of this clan, since Jeremiah lists his father and grandfather. He and his brothers with their sons also came with Jeremiah. This seems to be the whole house of the Rechabites, a small group. There was no mention of their wives or daughters. When they got to the Temple, Jeremiah brought them to a special room or chamber that belonged to the sons of Hanan, whose father was Igdaliah, a man of God or a prophet. Thus some of the prophets may have had a room at the Temple, but Jeremiah does not seem to have one for himself. They were near the chamber of the other Temple officials or scholars. They were above where Maaseiah, the son of Shallum, the same name as King Jehoahaz (609 BCE), lived. Maaseiah was the keeper of the threshold or keeper of the door, a high ranking priest. Thus this episode explains something about what was going on in the Temple.

False worship (Jer 32:34-32:35)

“They set up

Their abominations

In the house

That bears my name.

They defiled it.

They built

The high places of Baal

In the valley

Of the son of Hinnom,

To offer up

Their sons

As well as their daughters

To Molech.

I did not command them,

It did not enter my mind

That they should do

This abomination,

Causing Judah to sin.”

The major fault of the Israelites and Judeans was their false worship. First, they defiled the Temple, the house of Yahweh, by placing these false idols in the Temple itself. Then they also built the high altars for the false god Baal. Finally, they were offering up their sons and daughters to Molech in Hinnom valley, outside Jerusalem, that later became known as Gehenna or hell. Molech was a Canaanite god that demanded child sacrifices, who was specifically mentioned in Leviticus, chapter 20. Once again, Yahweh, as in chapter 19, said that he had not commanded or had it even entered his mind to ask for child sacrifices. Clearly, this worship of false gods and sacrificing children was against the will of Yahweh.

The letter suggests that they assimilate into Babylon (Jer 29:4-29:7)

“The letter said.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

To all the exiles

Whom I have sent

Into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

Build houses!

Live in them!

Plant gardens!

Eat what they produce!

Take wives!

Have sons!

Have daughters!

Take wives for your sons!

Give your daughters

In marriage!

Thus they may bear sons.

Thus they may bear daughters.

Multiply there!

Do not decrease!

But seek the welfare

Of the city

Where I have sent you

Into exile.

Pray to Yahweh

On its behalf.

In its welfare

You will find your welfare.’”

Interesting enough, this letter is very favorable to the Babylonians. After all, it was going to the king of Babylon. Once again it is the classical Jeremiah oracle with Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, as the source of this letter. They were to build houses, live in them, plant gardens, and eat from their produce. They were to have wives and children. They were to take wives for their sons and give their daughters in marriage, so that they could become grandparents. They should multiply there, not decrease. In fact, they were to get involved in the city there by praying to Yahweh for its welfare. After all, if the city did well, so would they. This seems like a clear attempt to assimilate into the Babylonian culture and society.