The fault of the Israelites (Jer 32:30-32:33)

“‘The people of Israel!

The people of Judah!

They have done nothing

But evil

In my sight

From their youth.

The people of Israel

Have done nothing

But provoke me to anger

By the work of their hands.’

Says Yahweh.

‘This city has aroused

My anger,

My wrath,

From the day it was built

Until this day.

Thus I will remove it

From my sight.

Because of all the evil

Of the people of Israel,

Of the people of Judah.

They provoked me to anger.

This includes

Their kings,

Their officials,

Their priests,

Their prophets,

The citizens of Judah,

The inhabitants of Jerusalem.

They have turned

Their back to me.

They have not turned

Their face to me.

Even though

I have taught them persistently,

They would not listen.

They would not accept correction.’”

Yahweh includes both Israel and Judah in this diatribe against all the Israelites, since they have done nothing but evil since their youth. By the work of their hands, they have provoked Yahweh to anger. The city of Jerusalem also aroused his anger, since the day that it was built. Yahweh was going to remove it because of all the evil that they had done. No one would be exempt, since their kings, officials, priests, prophets, citizens, and inhabitants of both Judah and Jerusalem had turned their backs on Yahweh, not their faces to Yahweh.  He had tried to teach them persistently, but they would not listen and accept correction.

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The Lebanon lamentation (Jer 22:20-22:23)

“Go up to Lebanon!

Cry out!

Lift up your voice

On Bashan!

Cry out

From Abarim!

All your lovers

Are crushed!

I spoke to you

In your prosperity.

But you said.

‘I will not listen.’

This has been your way

From your youth.

You have not obeyed

My voice.

The wind shall shepherd

All your shepherds.

Your lovers shall go

Into captivity.

Then you will be ashamed.

You will be dismayed

Because of all your wickedness.

O inhabitant of Lebanon!

Nested among the cedars!

How you will groan

When pangs come upon you!

You will have the pain

Of a woman in labor!”

Apparently, Jeremiah wanted the people in the high mountains of Lebanon, on the Bashan mountains in the south, as well as on the Abarim mountains in the north to cry out for their lost lovers. These would have been the various allies that they thought that they had, but were now all crushed. The prosperous people had not listened or obeyed Yahweh from their youth. Their shepherd leaders and their lover friends will all be sent into captivity, ashamed and dismayed because of their wickedness. The people of Lebanon, those living among the built cedars in the palace, will feel the pain of a woman in labor about to give birth.

The shamed Israelites (Jer 3:24-3:25)

“But from our youth

The shameful thing has

devoured all the things

For which our ancestors had labored,

Their flocks,

Their herds,

Their sons.

Their daughters.

Let us lie down in our shame!

Let our dishonor cover us!

We have sinned

Against Yahweh

Our God,

We,

With our ancestors,

From our youth,

Even to this day.

We have not obeyed

The voice of Yahweh our God.”

Jeremiah remarks that the Israelites were ashamed. Since their youth, they and their ancestors had done shameful things. All the work they had done with their flocks, herds, sons, and daughters has led them to be ashamed. They wanted dishonor to cover them, because they had sinned against Yahweh, their God, from their youth, and even as far back as their ancestors. They have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, their God.

Lack of shame (Jer 3:3-3:5)

“You have the forehead of a whore.

You refuse to be ashamed.

Have you not just now called to me?

‘My father!

You are the friend of my youth.

Will he be angry forever?

Will he be indignant to the end?’

This is how you have spoken.

But you have done

All the evil that you could.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they still refuse to be ashamed despite the fact that they have the forehead of a whore. Still, they called on Yahweh, their father. They wanted forgiveness. They wanted him to remember their youth. Would their father be angry forever and indignant until the end of life? Yahweh points out how they have spoken. Yet at the same time, they did all the evil that they could.

Remember the wilderness (Jer 2:2-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘I remember

The devotion of your youth.

I remember

Your love as a bride.

You followed me in the wilderness,

In a land not sown.

Israel was holy to Yahweh.

She was the first fruits of his harvest.

All who ate of it were held guilty.

Disaster came upon them.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh wanted them to remember the days of their youth when they were devoted to him like a young bride. They followed Yahweh in the sparse wilderness. Israel was holy to Yahweh like the first fruits of his harvest. However, things have changed since the events of hundreds of years ago in the Exodus. All who ate became guilty and disaster came to them. Thus Jeremiah proclaimed this oracle of Yahweh.

The end of Babylon (Isa 47:14-47:15)

“See!

They are like stubble.

The fire consumes them.

They cannot deliver themselves

From the power of the flame.

This is no coal for warming oneself!

This is no fire to sit before!

Such to you are

Those with whom you have labored.

You have trafficked with them

From your youth.

They all wander about

In their own paths.

There is no one to save you.”

Babylon will become like stubble that a fire consumes. They cannot save themselves from the powerful flames that are not like a warming fire or a fire to sit around and talk. They have worked with these people from their youth. They wander all around. No one is there to save them. Babylon is doomed.

Children (Sir 7:22-7:25)

“Do you have cattle?

Look after them.

If they are profitable to you,

Keep them.

Do you have children?

Discipline them.

Make them obedient from their youth.

Do you have daughters?

Be concerned for their chastity.

Do not show yourself too indulgent with them.

Give a daughter in marriage.

You will have completed a great task.

But give her to a sensible man.”

Sirach continued with his recommendations on how to handle children. However, he also mentioned cattle. If you had cattle take care of them if they profitable. If not, get rid of them. If you have children, there is a clear directive, discipline them. There is no alternative. They have to be obedient from their youth. If you have daughters, you have to protect their chastity. There is no such recommendation for the sons. You should not indulge your daughters. Your task, as a father, was to get your daughter married to a sensible man. If you did that you had accomplished a great task. However, there is no demand on you to have your son have a good marriage.