THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
Part I: Oracles Against Jerusalem and Judah
(The Oracles of Condemnation)
Persecution, Lament, and the King Oracles
We understand that we might experience persecution for adhering in obedience to Your laws and teachings from people outside the Church. However, it is both shocking and especially painful when we experience opposition and hostility from those who profess to be Christians but have compromised their beliefs to suit the values of secular society. In those times, Lord, help us to remember that being a Christian isn't about being popular or accepted, but it is about being faithful and obedient. Help us to remember the example set for us by Jeremiah and to have confidence that You are our refuge in times of distress. It doesn't matter what the world thinks of us; it only matters that we keep to Jesus' narrow path that leads to salvation. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Then you will be handed over to be tortured and put to death; and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name. And then many will fall away; people will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise; they will deceive many, and with the increase of lawlessness, love in most people will grow cold; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Jesus' message to His disciples in Matthew 24:9-13
Chapter 20: Jeremiah's Persecution, Fifth Confession, and Lament
The prose section that began in 19:1 continues through 20:6. Yahweh commanded Jeremiah to preach the object lesson of the potter and the clay by breaking a potter's pot in front of the elders, chief-priests and the people gathered at the southern gate that led out of the city of Jerusalem and into the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. Jeremiah told his audience that Yahweh was going to break them and the city of Jerusalem just as Jeremiah broke the potter's pot, never to be mended again (19:1-15). Then, Jeremiah came back into the city and went to the courtyard of Yahweh's Temple to continue the message of destruction for Jerusalem and the Temple (19:14-15). The incident of preaching the oracle associated with the fifth object lesson within the Temple's courts may have led to the ban against Jeremiah entering the sacred Temple. Jeremiah's fifth object lesson and its preaching oracle (19:1-15) has to be dated prior to 605 BC. In the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim, in 605 BC, the Temple hierarchy barred Jeremiah from entering the Temple (36:1, 5).
Jeremiah 20:1-6 ~ Pashhur's Reaction to Jeremiah's Oracle
1 Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was the chief of police in the Temple of Yahweh, heard Jeremiah making this prophecy. 2 Pashhur struck the prophet Jeremiah and then put him in the stocks, in the Upper Benjamin Gate leading into the Temple of Yahweh. 3 Next day, Pashhur had Jeremiah taken out of the stocks; Jeremiah then said to him, "Not Pashhur but Terror-on-every-Side is Yahweh's name for you. 4 For Yahweh says this, I am going to hand you over to terror, you and all your friends; they will fall by the sword of their enemies, your own eyes will see it. The whole of Judah, too, I shall hand over to the king of Babylon; he will carry them off captive to Babylon and put them to the sword. 5 And all the wealth of this city, all its stores, all its valuables, all the treasures of the kings of Judah, I shall hand over to their enemies who will plunder them, round them up and carry them off to Babylon. 6 As for you, Pashhur, and your whole household, you will go into captivity; you will go to Babylon; there you will die and there be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.'"
The Immer family of chief priests is listed among the names of the descendants of Aaron in the genealogical list of priestly families recorded by the scribes of King David (1 Chr 24:14). The priest Pashhur son of Immer has heard Jeremiah giving his oracle in the Temple courtyard.(1) Scripture does not specify which courtyard, but it could have been the inner Courtyard of the Priests and the location of the Altar of sacrifice. If that was the location, Jeremiah was disturbing the daily liturgical worship service and the offering of the twice daily, perpetual whole burnt communal offering of the Tamid sacrifice. The Tamid sacrifice was offered for the atonement and sanctification of the covenant people, and it was the focus of the entire day and the liturgy of worship for the covenant people (Ex 29:38-42; Num 28:3-8). No other sacrificial offering took precedence over the twice daily offering of the Tamid lamb, not even the Sabbath or Passover sacrifices (Num 28:10, 16, 17, 23).(2)
who was the chief of police in the Temple of Yahweh ...
Pashhur held the office of the chief of the Levitical Temple guard and was probably, along with the chief-priest who served as the Temple Superintendent, the most important permanent members of the chief priests serving in the Temple after the reigning High Priest. Other families of chief priests only served during the festival days and during their yearly scheduled service (1 Chr 24:19; 2 Chr 23:8; and like Zechariah in Lk 1:8).
2 Pashhur struck the
prophet Jeremiah and then put him in the stocks, in the Upper Benjamin Gate
leading into the Temple of Yahweh.
In response to Jeremiah's oracle, Pashhur struck Jeremiah, arrested him, and placed him in the stocks outside the Temple complex near the Upper Benjamin Gate. The stocks were an instrument of punishment that held the body confined in a painful position.(3)
The Upper Benjamin Gate is not to be confused with the Lower Benjamin Gate (Jer 37:13; 38:7). The Upper Benjamin Gate was at the north end of the city and may have been the same as the Upper Gate built by King Jotham (2 Kng 15:35). Pashhur is angry either because Jeremiah has disrupted the daily Tamid liturgical service, or he is offended by Jeremiah's prophecy and responds by having Jeremiah arrested. This is the first report of violence inflicted on Jeremiah, although in his confessions Jeremiah has already spoken three times of attempts to physically harm him (Jer 11:18-19; 18:20, 22). Jeremiah's humiliating slap recalls the abuse Jesus received when He was slapped by the chief priests and Temple guards (Mt 26:67-68; Mk 15:19; Lk 22:63-65 ).(4)
3 Next day, Pashhur had
Jeremiah taken out of the stocks; Jeremiah then said to him, "Not Pashhur but
Terror-on-every-Side is Yahweh's name for you. 4 For Yahweh says this, I am going to hand you over to
terror, you and all your friends; they will fall by the sword of their enemies,
your own eyes will see it...'
Question: The next day, when he is released, an angry Jeremiah gives Pashhur what new name? What is the reason for the new name and the prophecy that Jeremiah gives against Pashhur in verses 4-6?
Answer: Jeremiah calls him "Terror-on-every-Side." Pashhur's terror tactics against Jeremiah will be inflicted on him, his family, and his friends by the Babylonian enemy. He will be powerless to stop the terror that will engulf him and the city, and he along with others will be sent into exile.
The new name for Pashhur "terror-on-every-side," magor missabib, is an expression Jeremiah uses five times (6:25; 20:3, 10; 46:5; 49:29), and it is what his persecutors say to him in verse 10. The term may derive from Davidic Psalm 31 ~ All I hear is slander, terror wherever I turn [magor missabib], as they plot to take my life. But my trust is in you, Yahweh, I say, "You are my God"... (Ps 31:13-14).
6 As for you, Pashhur,
and your whole household, you will go into captivity; you will go to Babylon;
there you will die and there be buried, you and all your friends to whom you
have prophesied lies.
The punishment Pashhur can expect will exceed what he has inflicted upon Jeremiah. Verses 4-6 contain the first mention of the King of Babylon and the nation of Babylon as the fearful "enemy from the north;" Babylon is named as the enemy four times. That Pashhur and his friends have "prophesied lies" (verse 6) suggests they are part of the false prophets that Jeremiah complained to Yahweh were deceiving the people with promises of peace (Jer 14:13) and who Yahweh condemned to death (Jer 14:14-16). We are not told what happened to Pashhur. However, the high priest and all the other members of the Temple hierarchy were executed by Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon at Riblah (on the Syrian side of the border with northern Israel) in 587/6 BC (Jer 52:24-27).
Jeremiah 20:7-13 ~ Jeremiah's Fifth Confession Part I
7 You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they make fun of me. 8 For whenever I speak, I have to howl and proclaim, "Violence and ruin!" For me, Yahweh's word has been the cause of insult and derision all day long. 9 I would say to myself, "I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more," but then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me. I could not do it. 10 I heard so many disparaging me, "Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" All those who were on good terms with me watched for my downfall, "Perhaps he will be seduced into error. Then we shall get the better of him and take our revenge!" 11 But Yahweh is at my side like a mighty hero; my opponents wills tumble, vanquished, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs. 12 Yahweh Sabaoth, you who test the upright, observer of motives and thoughts, I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you. 13 Sing to Yahweh, praise Yahweh, for he has delivered the soul of one in need from the clutches of evil doers.
The poetry in verses 7-18 offer themes connected to the narrative and oracles associated with Pashhur in 19:14-20:6. The passage is also connected to Jeremiah's call and commissioning in Chapter 1. This section consists of Jeremiah's fifth confession in verses 7-18 that is divided into two parts:
Notice the links between Jeremiah's confession in 20:7-18 and Jeremiah's prophetic call in Chapter 1:
The poetry of Jeremiah's fifth confession in verses 7-13 can be compared to a toda/todah psalm. Like other toda (a Hebrew word meaning "thanksgiving") psalms it begins with Jeremiah recounting his suffering at the hands of his enemies, but the psalm ends in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for Yahweh's protection and his salvation in his time of distress. Some of the most beautiful of the toda psalms are Davidic psalms, most famously Psalm 22, the first verse of which Jesus will quote from the Cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This statement from the cross is misinterpreted as a cry of despair when it is instead a reference to David's hymn of faith and belief in the power of God to overcome evil.
In verse 7, Jeremiah describes himself as being seduced and overpowered
by the Lord to take up his prophetic mission. He confesses, however, that he could
not resist submitting to the will of God.
Question: What are the kinds of sufferings Jeremiah describes that are associated with his mission?
Jeremiah's focus shifts to Yahweh his protector (verses 11-13), and he ends his psalm with the invitation to join him in singing praise to Yahweh who has delivered his soul from the hands of his enemies. Notice that so great is Jeremiah's trust and faith in God to keep His promise of divine protection (first promised in his call to a prophetic ministry in Jeremiah 1:17-19), that he uses the past tense in thanking Yahweh in advance for his deliverance.
Jeremiah 20:14-18 ~ Jeremiah's Lament (Confession #5 Part II)
14 A curse on the day when I was born! May the day my mother bore me be unblessed! 15 A curse on the man who brought my father the news, "A son, a boy has been born to you!" making him overjoyed. 16 May this man be like the towns that Yahweh overthrew without mercy; may he hear the warning-cry at dawn and the shout of battle at high noon, 17 for not killing me in the womb; my mother would have been my grave and her womb pregnant forever. 18 Why ever did I come out of the womb to see toil and sorrow and end my days in shame?
The sadness that gripped Jeremiah at the beginning of his confession returns in verses 14-18 where he laments his birth and his prophetic call (see 1:5), as he did in 15:10. His lament is similar to the poetry of Job's lament in Job Chapter 3 that begins, Perish the day on which I was born and the night that told of a boy conceived (Job 3:3). Jeremiah, in his heart-wrenching grief, calls forth a curse on the man who brought the news of his birth to his father, because, if Jeremiah's father could see what has become of his son, his former happiness would dissolve into deepest grief. This lament marks the climax of Jeremiah's spiritual suffering.
Chapter 21: The Response to Jeremiah's Fifth Object Lesson
A review of the historical background: Between 609 BC and 587 BC, many battles occurred between the Egyptians and the Babylonians. The first clashes occurred three years after Babylon destroyed the Assyrian capital city of Nineveh in 612 BC. At that time, Judah was pro-Babylon and the Egyptians were the allies of Babylon's enemy Assyria. The Egyptian army marched north to help the Assyrians defeat the Babylonians in 609 BC. The Egyptians expressed their desire to pass through Judah peacefully, but King Josiah decided to intercept the Egyptians at Megiddo. The Egyptians defeated the army of Judah and Josiah was killed (2 Kng 23:28-30). Afterward, the Egyptians continued north and fought with the Assyrians against the Babylonians at the Battle of Haran where they were defeated.
After the defeat of their Assyrian allies at the Battle of Haran, the Babylonians withdrew and the Egyptians laid claim to all the land west of the Euphrates River, including Judah. Pharaoh Necho deposed Josiah's son, Jehoahaz, and made his brother Jehoiakim Egypt's vassal king of Judah (2 Kng 23:31-35). Having succeeded in subduing other parts of their empire, the Babylonians returned in 605 BC, defeating the last combined force of the Egyptians and Assyrians at the Battle of Carchemish and then crushing the Egyptians at the Battle of Hamath, effectively ridding the region of the Egyptians. After the battle, the Babylonians marched to Jerusalem where they took members of the royal family captive along with members of other leading families, and they made Davidic King Jehoiakim a Babylonian vassal (2 Kng 24:1, 7). King Jehoiakim attempted twice to lead a revolted against the Babylonians, and the second time, in 598 BC, he incurred the wrath of the Babylonians when they invaded Judah and surrounded Jerusalem.
Chapters 21-23: Jeremiah Oracles to the King and the People
After the city surrendered in 598/7 BC, the Babylonians deposed Davidic kings Jehoiakim and his son Jehoiakim (Josiah's son and grandson) and took them into exile. They made Josiah's youngest son, a brother of Jehoiakim named Mattaniah, the king of Judah, changing his name to Zedekiah (2 Kng 24:8-18). They hoped he had learned a lesson from the fate of his kinsmen and would become their obedient vassal. It was a badly founded hope, and for a second time the Babylonians army marched against a rebellious vassal king of Judah and his people, besieging the capital city of Jerusalem in 588 BC. This section is out of the chronological sequence and dates to the last years of Jeremiah's ministry. The "King Oracles" in 21:1-23:8 dates to 588 or 587 BC or the in between period during the prolonged siege:
Notice the similarity in the topic of the first of the King Oracles for Zedekiah, Judah's last Davidic king, in 21:1-10 and the last of the King Oracles for the future Messianic Davidic king who will rule eternally in 23:1-8.
Jeremiah 21:1-10 ~ King Zedekiah's Appeal for Yahweh's Help and Yahweh's Answer
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malchiah to him, with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, to say this, 2 "Please consult Yahweh for us, since Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war on us: perhaps Yahweh will work one of his many miracles for us and force him to withdraw." 3 Jeremiah said to them, "Take this answer to Zedekiah, 4 Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: I shall bring back the weapons of war which you are now carrying, and which you are fighting the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans now besieging you: from outside the walls, I shall stack them in the center of this city. 5 And I shall fight against you myself with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, fury and great wrath. 6 I shall strike down the inhabitants of this city, human and animal; they will die of a great plague. 7 Then, Yahweh declares, I shall deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials, the people and those of this city who have escaped the plague, the sword, or the famine, into the clutches [hands] of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, into the clutches [hands] of their enemies and into the clutches [hands] of those determined to kill them; mercilessly, relentlessly, pitilessly, he will put them to the sword.' 9 And you must say to this people, Yahweh says this: look, I offer you a choice between the way of life and the way of death. Anyone who stays in this city will die by sword, by famine, or by plague; but anyone who leaves it and surrenders to the Chaldaeans now besieging you will live; he will escape with his life. 10 For I am determined on disaster, and not prosperity, for this city, Yahweh declares. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.'"
With the Babylonians besieging Jerusalem, a desperate King Zedekiah sends envoys to consult the prophet he has disparaged and threatened for the past decade years. Jeremiah gives two oracles that Zedekiah's ministers are to carry back to the king:
Pashhur son of Malchiah is not the same man as Pashhur son of Immer, the chief of the Temple's Levitical guards who struck Jeremiah and put him in the stocks in chapter 20 (see endnote 1). King Zedekiah has ignored every plea to repent and to turn back to Yahweh and His covenant, and he has denied every prophecy of divine judgment. Finally, he has sent an envoy to Jeremiah to seek Yahweh's protection against Judah's enemy. Unfortunately, it is too late and there is no attempt to offer nation or personal repentance.
The king no doubt remembered when Assyrian King Sennacherib came to besiege Jerusalem during the reign of his great-great grandfather King Hezekiah in 722 BC. However, Zedekiah did not live up to his name, which means "Yahweh-is-my-Saving Justice," ironically a throne name given to him by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kng 24:17). His great-great-grandfather, King Hezekiah ("strength of Yahweh"), was a very different man. Hezekiah faithfully followed the commands and prohibitions of Yahweh's Law and set a good example for his people: He put his trust in Yahweh, God of Israel. No king of Judah after him could compare with him, not any of those before him. He was devoted to Yahweh, never turning from him, but keeping the commandments which Yahweh had laid down for Moses. And so Yahweh was with him, and he was successful in all that he undertook (2 Kng 18:5-7). When the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem, Hezekiah went to the Temple, prostrated himself before his Lord God, and professing his faith in Yahweh, "God of all the kingdoms of the world" who "made heaven and earth," and he asked God to save His people. It was a petition God granted with an amazing miracle (2 Kng 19:14-19). Yahweh struck the enemy with a plague that caused them to retreat from their siege of Jerualem (2 Kng 19:35-37).
However, Zedekiah probably also remembered the last Babylonian siege a decade earlier in 598 BC. At that time God did not save the city. Jerusalem surrendered to the Babylonians, King Jehoiakim died, and his son King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, and many prominent citizens were marched off to exile in Babylon. It was at that time that the Babylonians made him king in place of his nephew Jehoiachin (2 Kng 24:17).
Question: What petition does Zedekiah ask Jeremiah to make to
Yahweh, and what is Yahweh's response? See verses 3-7.
Answer: The king asks Jeremiah to petition Yahweh to make a miracle that will save the city from the Babylonian army. Yahweh replies that instead of fighting for Jerusalem, He will fight against the city on the side of the Babylonians. The Babylonians will be victorious, Zedekiah will be deposed, and many people of the city will die.
Question: Despite God's refusal to spare the Jerusalem, He does
promise a path to salvation for the city's citizens. What must they do to save
their lives? See verses 8-10.
Answer: They must leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians who will spare their lives.
Question: What two parts of Jeremiah's prophecies are about to
come true for the covenant people?
Answer: As Jeremiah has continually prophesied in Yahweh's name, there are only two choices open to the citizens of Judah and Jerusalem at this late date: death or captivity and exile.
Jeremiah 21:11-14 ~ Jeremiah's Oracle to the Davidic Royal Family of Judah
11 To the royal House of Judah. Listen to the word of Yahweh, 12 House of David! Yahweh says this: "Each morning give fair judgment, rescue anyone who has been wronged from the hands of his oppressor, or else my wrath will leap out like a fire, it will burn and no one will be able to quench it, because of the wickedness of your actions. 13 My quarrel is with you, resident of the valley, Rock-in-the-Plain," Yahweh declares, "with you that say, Who would dare attack us and enter out lairs?' 14 I shall punish you as your actions deserve, Yahweh declares, I shall set fire to its forest and it will devour all around it."
The oracle in verses 11-14 is in three parts:
Yahweh is Israel's Divine King, and the human kings are His agents of justice in civil affairs. Israel is a monarchy, but that monarchy is limited by Yahweh's "Rules of the Kings" in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Jeremiah's poetic oracle to Zedekiah in verses 11-14 is the first of two oracles addressed to not only the king but the entire royal family.
Question: What warning does Jeremiah give to the royal house of Judah?
Answer: They must either take responsibility in administering justice for the oppressed, or they will experience divine justice and destruction.
quarrel is with you, resident of the valley, Rock-in-the-Plain," Yahweh
declares, "with you that say, Who would dare attack us and enter out lairs?'"
Verse 13 is an indictment for royal pride in believing they are immune from divine judgment because of the Davidic covenant. Jerusalem was built across mountain peaks with the valleys between filled in (like the Tyropoeon Valley) to support the expanding city. The "rock" of the Ophel was crowned with the royal palace of the Davidic kings built by King Solomon (see 1 Kng 7:1-12; 2 Chr 4:9).
14 I shall
punish you as your actions deserve, Yahweh declares, I shall set fire to its
forest and it will devour all around it."
This verse is Yahweh's judgment on the royal deeds of the house of David presently ruling Jerusalem. If the Davidic princes fail to administer justice, God will allow the destruction of King Solomon's great palace and its famous royal assembly hall called "the House of the Cedars of Lebanon" and its many rooms paneled with cedar wood (Jer 22:14). "The House of the Cedars of Lebanon" was a name inspired by the great cedar pillars that gave the hall the look of a forest (see 1 Kng 7:1-2, 11).
Jeremiah 22:1-5 ~ Oracle for the Kings of Judah and the Duty to Execute Justice
1 Yahweh says this, "Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and there say this word, 2 Listen to the word of Yahweh, king of Judah now occupying the throne of David, you, your officials and your people who go through these gates. 3 Yahweh says this: Act uprightly and justly; rescue from the hands of the oppressor anyone who has been wronged, do not exploit or ill-treat the stranger, the orphan, the widow; shed no innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are scrupulous in obeying this command, then kings occupying the throne of David will continue to make their entry through the gates of this palace riding in chariots or on horseback, they, their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not listen to these words, then I swear by myself, Yahweh declares, this palace shall become a ruin!
Jeremiah is directed to go from the Temple precinct down to the royal palace that is adjacent to the Temple and to speak God's word to the king. It is understood that this oracle must be spoken at the palace gates, which are mentioned in the directive in verse 2.
2 Listen to the
word of Yahweh, king of Judah now occupying the throne of David, you, your
officials and your people who go through these gates.
Although this prose section pertains to the entire royal house, the first part of Jeremiah's oracle is addressed directly to the king. Since the gates are those to the royal palace, those passing through will only be member of the royal family or ministers of the king.
Yahweh appeals to King Zedekiah to remember his primary duty as Yahweh's kingly representative to secure the administration of justice for the covenant people and to protect the disadvantaged and oppressed. Every king of Israel was bound by the "Rules for Kings" in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. It stated that every king of Israel must ... learn to fear Yahweh his God by keeping all the words of this Law and observing these rules so that he will not think himself superior to his brothers [countrymen/women], and not deviate from these commandments either to right nor to left. So doing, long will he occupy his throne, he and his sons, in Israel (Dt 17:19c-20).
Question: What five examples of kingly responsibility does God give the king?
Question: What promise does God make to the king
if he will return to upholding his kingly responsibilities by ensuring justice
for Yahweh's people? What is God's warning?
Answer: The promise is the House of David will continue to rule God's people, but the warning is that failure will mean the destruction of the palace of the Davidic kings.
Jeremiah 22:6-9 ~ Oracle for the Royal Palace
6 "Yes, this is what Yahweh says about the palace of the king of Judah: You are like Gilead to me, like a peak of Lebanon. All the same, I will reduce you to a desert, to uninhabited towns. 7 I dedicate [sanctify] men to destroy you, each man with his weapons; they will cut down your finest cedars and throw them on the fire. 8 And when many nations pass this city, they will say to one another: Why has Yahweh treated this great city like this? 9 And the answer will be: Because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh their God to worship other gods and serve them." [...] = literal Hebrew, IBHE, vol. IV, page 1789.
The structure of the next three oracles includes a progression from:
Verses 6-7 of the oracle are in the poetic form, but verses 8-9 are in prose. If the Davidic kings of Judah do not uphold their responsibilities as God's civil agents of justice, His threat to destroy their royal seat of power will come to pass; Solomon's magnificent palace that is the symbol of the power of the Davidic kings and the nation will be destroyed.
You are like Gilead to me, like a peak of Lebanon.
This is an obscure comparison but most Biblical scholars think the metaphors of Gilead and Lebanon are to the royal palace. Gilead and Lebanon were abundantly forested at this time and we know from descriptions of the royal palace that its interior was richly covered with cedar, cypress, and other choice woods (see 22:14-15 and 1 Kng 7:2-5). The great palace isn't anything more to Yahweh than a natural forest that can also be destroyed by fire.
dedicate [sanctify] men to destroy you, each man with his weapons; they will
cut down your finest cedars and throw them on the fire. 8 And when many nations pass this city, they
will say to one another: Why has Yahweh treated this great city like this? 9 And the answer will be: Because they abandoned
the covenant of Yahweh their God to worship other gods and serve them."
The sanctifying of the army that will destroy the seat of power of the Davidic kings suggests a holy war. The destruction of finest cedars refers to the interior of the palace (Jer 22:14). David's earlier palace was described as a "house of cedar (2 Sam 7:2), and Solomon's palace and the renovations made over the centuries made it much finer. The king's palace was burned by King Nebuchadnezzar after the city of Jerusalem fell in 587/6 BC (2 Kng 25:9; Jer 39:8; 52:13). Verses 7-9 recall the curse-judgments in Deuteronomy 29:23-26, And all the nations will exclaim, "Why has Yahweh treated this country like this? Why this great blaze of anger?" And people will say, "Because they deserted the covenant of Yahweh, God of their ancestors, the covenant which he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt; because they went and served other gods and worshipped them, gods hitherto unknown to them, gods that were no part of their heritage from him: this is why Yahweh's anger has blazed against this country, afflicting it with all the cruses written in this book.
Jeremiah 22:10-12 ~ Oracle Against Jehoahaz/Shallum
10 Do not weep for the man who is dead, do to raise the dirge for him. Weep rather for the one who has gone away, since he will never come back, never see his native land again. 11 For this is what Yahweh has said about Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah, who succeeded Josiah his father and was forced to leave this place, "He will never come back to it 12 but will die in the palace to which he has been taken captive; and he will never see this country again.
This oracle that begins in poetic form in verse 10 ends in prose in verses 11-12 and refers to Shallum whose throne name was Jehoahaz. In the oracle, Jeremiah says the royal house of David must not "weep for the man who is dead," referring to good King Josiah who was killed by the Egyptians at the Battle of Megiddo. After King Josiah was killed, he was succeeded by his son Jehoahaz who ruled for three months and was then deposed by the Egyptians in 609 BC.
Egyptian King Necho made Jehoahaz's brother Eliakim king of Judah and gave him the throne name Jehoiakim. When a ruling nation created a vassal king, it was a common practice to give him a new name, symbolizing that the great king to whom he owed his allegiance was now his "father."
Jeremiah 22:13-19 ~ Oracle Against Jehoiakim
13 "Disaster for the man who builds his house without uprightness, his upstairs rooms without fair judgment, who makes his fellow-man work for nothing, without paying him his wages, 14 who says, I shall build myself a spacious palace with airy upstairs rooms,' who makes windows in it, panels it with cedar, and paints it vermilion. 15 Are you more a king because of your passion for cedar? Did your father go hungry or thirsty? But he did what is just and upright, so all went well for him. 16 He used to examine the cases of poor and needy; then all went well. Is not that what it means to know me? Yahweh demands. 17 You on the other hand have eyes and heart for nothing but your own interests, for shedding innocent blood and perpetrating violence and oppression." 18 That is why Yahweh says this about Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: "No lamenting for him, My poor brother! My poor sister!' No lamenting for him, His poor lordship! His poor majesty!' 19 He will have a donkey's funeral, dragged away and thrown out of the gates of Jerusalem."
This poetic oracle is a curse-judgment against King Jehoiakim son of Josiah who was made king by the Egyptians who deposed his brother Jehoahaz (see verse 18) and made him their vassal king when he was 25 years old. He ruled from 609-598 BC. He was a man who was more concerned with renovations to his palace than dispensing justice to his people (verses 13-15a). Yahweh describes the righteous deeds of King Josiah in verses 15b-16 that are similar to Yahweh's commands for a righteous king in 22:3. Unlike his father, Jehoiakim failed to fulfill his duty as a king; and, therefore, he was condemned to a disgraceful death. The Babylonians deposed him when he revolted against them a second time in 598 BC, and he died shortly after being taken away in exile to Babylon (2 Kng 23:36-6; 2 Chr 36:5-7).
Jeremiah 22:20-23 ~ Oracle Against Jerusalem: Home of the Davidic Kings
20 "Climb the Lebanon range and shriek, raise your voice in Bashan, shriek from the Abarim, for all your lovers have been ruined! 21 I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, I will not listen!' From your youth this has been how you behaved, refusing to listen to my voice. 22 The wind will shepherd all your shepherds away and your lovers will go into captivity. Then you will certainly blush with shame at the thought of all your wickedness. 23 You who have made the Lebanon your home and made your nest among the cedars, how you will groan when anguish overtakes you, pangs like those of a woman in labor!"
In this poetic oracle, Yahweh personifies Jerusalem whose citizens bewail the events at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's siege against the city 597 BC. The wailing, Jeremiah says, is heard all the way to the north in the mountains of Lebanon, to the north-east in Bashon on the east side of the Jordan River, and to the Abraim Mountain Range east of the Jordan River in Moab. This time all Jerusalem's "lovers" who are ruined are not false gods but her "shepherds," her kings and leading men taken captive by the Babylonians.
23 You who have
made the Lebanon your home and made your nest among the cedars, how you will
groan when anguish overtakes you, pangs like those of a woman in labor!"
Where "Lebanon" in verse 20 referred to the mountains of Lebanon in the north, here your nest among the cedars refers to the cedar-built royal palace complex (see 22:6, 14). The focus is on the king and his royal ministers, those who are nicely "nested" in their luxurious and protected Jerusalem palace. Their sense of security in their well-appointing surroundings is misplaced since they are doomed to experience sufferings "like those of a woman in labor" (also see the same simile for suffering 13:21b).
Jeremiah 22:24-30 ~ Oracle Against Jehoiachin
24 "As I live, Yahweh declares, even if Coniah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, I would still wrench you off! 25 I shall hand you over to those determined to kill you, to those you dread, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to the Chaldaeans. 26 I shall hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country; you were not born there but you will both die there. 27 They will not return to the country to which they desperately long to return." 28 Is he a shoddy broken pot, this man Coniah, a crock that no one wants? Why are he and his offspring ejected, hurled into a country they know nothing of? 29 O land, land, land, listen to the word of Yahweh! 30 Yahweh says this, "List this man as: Childless; a man who made a failure of his life, since none of his offspring will succeed in occupying the throne of David, or ruling in Judah again."
Verses 24-27 are in prose and then verses 28-30 are in the poetic oracle form. The oracle begins with the phrase, "As I live;" it is a self-oath that Yahweh makes concerning the destiny of Jehoiachin, also called "Coniah" or Jechoniah in Matthew's genealogy in Matthew 1:11-12, who is like the "broken pot" in Jeremiah's fifth object lesson oracle (Jer 19:1-15). This oracle probably refers to the people's lament for Jehoiachin and the Queen Mother's recent departure into Babylonian exile in 598 BC (see Jeremiah's warning of this event in 13:18; also the account in 2 Kng 24:12).
25 I shall hand
you over to those determined to kill you, to those you dread, to Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon to the Chaldaeans.
The Chaldaeans were a Semitic people living in the marshy land of the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia between the late 10th and mid-6th centuries BC. With the rise of the neo-Babylonian Empire, the Chaldaeans became the ruling ethnic group. Nebuchadnezzar was a Chaldaean. Chaldaean-Babylonian dynasty died out after the death of Nebuchadnezzar's son.
30 Yahweh says
this, "List this man as: Childless; a man who made a failure of his life, since
none of his offspring will succeed in occupying the throne of David, or ruling
in Judah again."
The command is to list him as "childless" in the official genealogical registers, and therefore, none of his offspring will be eligible to make a claim to the inheritance of the Davidic throne.
Question: In verse 30 what curse-judgment is made against Jehoiachin/Coniah/Jechoniah?
Answer: The promises of the Davidic covenant will not continue through his line. Not one of his descendants will sit on the throne of David.
Question: If that is so, why is Jechoniah listed
in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus in chapter 1? Is he Jesus' direct ancestor?
See Mt 1:11-12, 16;
Mk 1:24; 6:3;
Lk 1:31-33; 3:21-32; 24:19.
Answer: Jechoniah is the ancestor of St. Joseph, Mary's husband, but Joseph is not Jesus' father by birth. Jesus is only called the son of Mary by the inspired writers of the Gospels. Jesus can make a legal claim to the Davidic covenant through His foster father, Joseph; however, Jesus is a descendant of David by blood and the heir of the promises of the Davidic covenant only through the Virgin Mary who is not a descendant of Jechoniah.
Jechoniah is not named in St. Luke's genealogy which is believed to be Mary's ancestral lineage. That lineage passes from David through his son Nathan and not through Solomon as in Matthew's genealogy.
Jeremiah 23:1-8 ~ Oracle on the Future
Messianic Davidic King and the Life of the Nation
1 "Disaster for the shepherds who lose and scatter the sheep of my pasture, Yahweh declares. 2 This, therefore, is what Yahweh, God of Israel, says about the shepherds who shepherd my people. You have scattered my flock, you have driven them away and have not taken care of them. Right, I shall take care of you for your misdeeds, Yahweh declares! 3 But the remnant of my flock I myself shall gather from all the countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; they will be fruitful and increase in numbers. 4 For them I shall raise up shepherds to shepherd them and pasture them. No fear, no terror for them anymore; not one shall be lost, Yahweh declares! 5 Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country. 6 In his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be called, Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.' 7 So, look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when people will no longer say, As Yahweh lives who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,' 8 but As Yahweh lives who led back and brought home the offspring of the House of Israel from the land of the north and all the countries to which he had driven them, to live on their own soil.'"
Verses 1-4 and 7-8 are in prose, and verses 5-6 are in poetry. This is the conclusion of the "King Oracles" that began in chapter 21. The oracle in verses 1-8 can be divided into three parts:
Yahweh ordains judgment on the rulers of Judah who are responsible for the Babylonian exile. That Yahweh is personally coming against Judah's "failed shepherds" is repeated by the prophet Ezekiel (see Ez 34:1-10). However, God also promises that He will preserve a remnant of the covenant people, and He will take care of His flock and will regather them through "shepherds"/rulers of His choosing (also see Ez 34:11-16). He will also send a descendant of the great King David, a Davidic Messiah, to reign over His covenant people in fulfillment of the promises of the Davidic Covenant (see Ex 34:23-31).
This oracle is the third Messianic prophecy in the Book
of Jeremiah, and it is repeated in the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:10-24 where
Yahweh promises "I Myself" will restore the people.
|Prophecy||Scripture reference||New Testament Fulfillment|
|1.The Church in the Messianic Age||Jer 3:14-17||Mt 16:18-19; Acts 2:1-12|
|2.The death of Christ, the Lamb of sacrifice, and the Eucharist||Jer 11:19||
Jn 1:29, 36;
1 Pt 1:19;
Rev 5:6, 12-13
|3.The Davidic "Branch" and "Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice"/ "Lord of Righteousness"||
(Is 4:2; 9:5-6; 11:1, 10-12;
Ez 34:23; 37:25-28;
Zec 3:8; 6:12)
1 Pt 2:5
5 Look, the days
are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David...
The promised Messiah will be a righteous (upright) "branch" from the family tree of the great King David. It is a repeat of Isaiah's Messianic prophecy that named David's father Jesse: A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot [branch] will grow from his roots (Is 11:1).
"... he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is
just and upright in the country. 6 In
his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he
will be called, Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.'
This future king will be blessed with a reign of justice and righteousness in his kingdom and the covenant people will be delivered from their enemies. All of what is promised in the reign of the Davidic Messiah is directly opposite to the reign of King Zedekiah.
4 For them I
shall raise up shepherds to shepherd them and pasture them. No fear, no terror
for them anymore; not one shall be lost, Yahweh declares!
After the restoration of the new Exodus out of pagan lands "no one will be lost," who puts his faith in God, meaning that the faithful will not lose their lives. This prophecy may be a reference to Jesus the Messiah who will bring the gift of everlasting life and the shepherds Yahweh will raise up will be Jesus' shepherds who are the Apostles and disciples of the New Covenant Church (23:4).
6 In his days
Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be
Question: The name of the last Davidic king of covenant people was Zedekiah whose name means "Yahweh-is-my-Saving-Justice." How is the name of the promised Davidic Messiah in 23:6b contrasted with the name of Judah's last failed Davidic king? What does Jesus' Hebrew name "Yahshua" mean?
Answer: Zedekiah did not live up to his name, "Yahweh-is-my-Saving-Justice," but Jesus did because He is God, and therefore deserves the title "Yahweh-is-our-Saving Justice" and "Lord of Righteousness." Jesus, Hebrew name, Yahshua, means "Yahweh saves."
look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when people will no longer say, As
Yahweh lives who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,' 8 but As Yahweh lives who led back and brought
home the offspring of the House of Israel from the land of the north and all
the countries to which he had driven them, to live on their own soil.'"
The promised Davidic Messiah will bring about a new Exodus, the restoration of a new Israel, and a new oath: "As Yahweh lives" who brought us home from all the countries of the earth under the rule of a new Davidic King!
Question: How did Jesus of Nazareth fulfill the prophetic promises in Jeremiah 23:3-8?
Answer: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Jeremiah 23:5-8 because:
A Question for reflection or group discussion:
The Messianic oracle in 23:1-8 is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, but what is His Kingdom and how does it fulfill other prophecies like Daniel's vision of the everlasting Kingdom in Daniel 2:44-45 and his vision of the Divine Messiah in 7:13-14?
1. The name Pashhur was apparently common in this period and has been found at a number of seventh/sixth-century BC archaeological sites in the Holy Land: on an ostracon at the Tel Arad Sanctuary about six miles south of the Dead Sea, on an eighth or seventh-century BC Aroer
ostracon (Aroer is a Biblical town on the north bank of the River Arnon to the east of the Dead Sea in present-day Jordan), on three seventh or sixth-century bullae from an excavation at Tell Beit Mirsim (in Israel near Mt. Hermon), on a late seventh or sixth-century BC Hebrew seal from Azor (archeological site southeast of Tel Aviv), and on another seventh-century Hebrew seal of unknown provenance (Lundbom, Jeremiah, vol. I, pages 845, 879). Another Pashhur is named in Jer 21:1 and yet another in the events of Jer 38:1-6. The same priestly family is recorded as surviving the exile in Neh 11:12 and 1 Chr 9:12 and as having survived into the postexilic period.
2. The command that all other sacrifices must come after the offering of the perpetual, whole burnt offering of the Tamid is repeated fifteen times in Num 28:10-29:38. Jesus is the fulfillment of the perpetual sacrifice of the Tamid. See Michal E. Hunt's book "The Mystery of the Tamid Sacrifice," offered as an e-book
5. A grandson of Jehoiachin named Zerubbabel will return from the Babylonian captivity as the Persian governor of Judah. However, because of his connections to the royal line and the Messianic hope Hag 2:21-23; Zec 4:6-10), he was recalled by the Persians and did not rule over Judah as king (2 Chr 3:17-24; Ezra 2:2; 3:2; Hag 1:1; 2:21; he appears in Matthew's genealogy as an ancestor of St. Joseph in Mt 1:12).
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Catechism references for this lesson (* indicated that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the catechism citation):