The listeners of Jeremiah (Jer 38:1-38:1)

“Now Shephatiah,

The son of Mattan,

Gedaliah,

The son of Pashhur,

Jucar,

The son of Shelemiah,

With Pashhur,

The son of Malchiah,

Heard the words

That Jeremiah was saying

To all the people.”

People went to hear what Jeremiah had to say even while he was in prison. Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jucar, and Pashhur were royal officials among the visitors who were listening to the words of Jeremiah.   Shephatiah is only mentioned here.   Gedaliah may be the son of Pashhur, who beat up Jeremiah in chapter 20. But he was a priest and not a royal official. Jucar is probably the same Jehucal mentioned in the preceding chapter as a messenger from the king to Jeremiah. Pashhur was the same royal messenger mentioned in chapter 21. Apparently while in the prison at the royal palace, Jeremiah could receive visitors. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 45, not chapter 38 as here.

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Jeremiah responds that Yahweh is against them (Jer 21:3-21:6)

“Then Jeremiah said to them.

‘Thus you shall say

To King Zedekiah.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

I am going to turn back

The weapons of war

That are in your hands,

The ones with which you are fighting

Against the king of Babylon,

Against the Chaldeans,

Who are besieging you

Outside the walls.

I will bring them together

Into the midst of this city.

I myself will fight

Against you

With outstretched hand,

With a mighty arm,

In anger,

In fury,

In great wrath.

I will strike down

The inhabitants of this city,

Both human beings

As well as animals.

They shall die of a great pestilence.”

Yahweh’s response to these visitors to Jeremiah is that he is not going to help them. Instead, he was going to take the side of the Babylonians. Jeremiah told them to tell King Zedekiah that Yahweh was going to take their weapons of war from them. The Babylonians and Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem would actually enter the Jerusalem center of the city. Yahweh himself was going to fight against the Israelites with his mighty outstretched hand because he was angry, furious, and filled with a great wrath against them. He was going to strike down all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, both humans and animals, with a deadly pestilence. Their death was near.

The role of the Temple (Jer 7:3-7:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Amend your ways!

Amend your doings!

Let me dwell with you

In this place.

Do not trust

In these deceptive words.

‘This is the temple of Yahweh!

The temple of Yahweh!

The temple of Yahweh.’”

The first part of this pericope sounds like the many other times that Yahweh had spoken to his people. He was the God of Israel with his hosts. The Temple visitors were to amend their ways and what they were doing. Yahweh wanted to dwell with them in his Temple. However, the second verse is a little strange. Yahweh told Jeremiah not to trust the deceptive words about the Temple of Yahweh. In fact, the statement is mentioned 3 times, “Temple of Yahweh”. Was this a reminder to enter the Temple 3 times a day? Was this against the false prophets who told them not to worry, since as long as they had the Temple everything would be fine? Is it a rebuke to those who just loved the majesty and beauty of the Temple? This triple cry about the Temple of Yahweh as deceptive words is not really clear.