The warning from Yahweh (Ezek 8:12-8:13)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Have you seen

What the elders

Of the house

Of Israel

Are doing

In the dark?

Each was in

His room of pictures.

They say.

‘Yahweh does not see us.

Yahweh has forsaken

The land.’

He said also to me.

‘You will see

Still greater abominations

That they are committing.’”

Yahweh warned Ezekiel, the son of man. Yahweh wanted to remind him of what he had just seen. The elders of Israel were worshipping false idols in the dark. Each of them had their own personal gods with their own little hidden rooms. These elders thought that Yahweh did not see what was going on, since Yahweh had left the land of Israel in the first captivity. Yahweh warned Ezekiel that he would see even greater abominations that the people of Israel were involved with.

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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 message of Yahweh’s prophets (Jer 25:5-25:7)

“They said.

‘Every one of you!

Turn now

From your evil ways!

Turn now

From wrong doings!

You will remain

Upon the land

That Yahweh has given

To you

As well as your ancestors

From of old

And forever.

Do not go

After other gods

To serve them,

To worship them!

Do not provoke me to anger

With the work of your hands!

Then I will do you no harm.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Yet you did not listen to me.

Thus you have provoked me

To anger

With the work of your hands

To your own harm.’”

Jeremiah says that Yahweh’s prophets had told all of them to turn away from their evil ways and wicked doings. If they had done that, they would remain in the land that Yahweh gave to them and their ancestors forever. However, they were not to go after other gods, serving and worshipping them. Thus they should not provoke Yahweh to anger with their own hands. Yahweh was not going to harm them. However, they did not listen. They had to provoke him to anger with the works of their own hands that only brought harm to them.

The pride of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 13:8-13:11)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

I will ruin the pride of Judah.

I will ruin the great pride of Jerusalem.

This is an evil people.

They refuse to hear my words.

They stubbornly follow their own will.

They have gone after other gods.

They serve them.

They worship them.

They shall be like this loincloth,

That is good for nothing.

Just as the loincloth clings

To one’s loins,

So I made the whole house of Israel

With the whole house of Judah

Cling to me.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Thus they might be for me

A people,

A name,

A praise,

A glory.

But they would not listen.’”

Now Yahweh explains to Jeremiah the problem and story of the loincloth. Just as the loincloth was ruined, so too would the great pride of Judah and Jerusalem also be ruined. These were evil people who would not listen to the words of Yahweh. They would rather follow their own will and ways. Besides, they have gone after other gods serving and worshipping them. Thus they will be like Jeremiah’s ruined loincloth, good for nothing. Just as the loincloth clung to Jeremiah’s loins, both the house of Judah and Israel had clung to Yahweh. He wanted to make them a great people with a great name that everyone would praise and glory, but they would not listen.