Lesson 13
Part I: Oracles Against Jerusalem and Judah
(Oracles in the Last Year of Jerusalem)
Chapters 25-28
The Vision of the Cup of God Wrath, Jeremiah's Arrest and Trial, and
The Message of Submission to Babylon

Most Merciful Lord,

Our prayer is the same as Jeremiah's when he prayed, "Correct me in love, Lord, and not in anger." May we never experience Your divine wrath but only Your Fatherly correction. We know that so long as we remain open to correction through the teachings of Your Church and return to You in humble repentance that we will not be separated from Your forgiveness. We only become vulnerable to Your divine wrath when we exhibit open rebellion to the motherly guidance of the Church or when we encourage rebellion in others. Please send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our lesson, as we pledge ourselves in obedience to the gentle corrective yoke of our Savior, Christ Jesus. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Yahweh is holding a cup filled with a heady blend of wine; he will pour it, they will drink it to the dregs, all the wicked on earth will drink it.
Psalm 75:8/9

Awake, awake! To your feet, Jerusalem! You who from Yahweh's hand have drunk the cup of his wrath. The chalice, the stupefying cup, you have drained it to the dregs.
Isaiah 53:17

In Chapters 25:1-29:32, Yahweh commands Jeremiah to preach submission to Babylonia. This section contains four major parts:

  1. Jeremiah's oracle that Judah and other nations must accept Babylonian rule as the will of God (Chapter 25).
  2. A narrative concerning Jeremiah's trial for delivering a prophetic sermon on the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple within the Temple complex (Chapter 26).
  3. Jeremiah's confrontation with the prophet Hananiah (Chapters 27-28).
  4. Jeremiah's letter to the Babylonian exiles (Chapter 29).

Most Biblical scholars see Jeremiah 25:14-38 as an introduction to "The Prophecies Against the Nations, Part II of the Book of Jeremiah (see the outline in handout #1, Lesson 1) that begins in earnest in chapter 46. Like the oracle against the false prophets in 25:9 entitled "On the prophets," this section also has a title in 25:14, "What Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations" (25:14).

Chapter 25: The Vision of the Cup of Wrath

Jeremiah 25:13b-29 ~ The Nations That Will Drink the Cup of God's Wrath
13b What Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations: 14 "For these in their turn are to be enslaved to powerful nations and great kings, and I shall pay them back as their deeds and handiwork deserve." 15 For Yahweh, the God of Israel, said this to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath and make all nations to whom I send you drink it; 16 they will drink it; they will drink and reel and lose their wits, because of the sword I am sending among them. 17 I took the cup from Yahweh's hand and made all the nations to whom Yahweh sent me drink it. 18 Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, its kings and its chief men, to make them a ruin, an object of horror and derision and a curse, as is the case today. 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, his officials, his chief men and all his people, 20 with the whole conglomeration of peoples there all the kings of the country of Uz, all the kings of the country of the Philistines, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and what is still left of Ashdod; 21 Edom, Moab and the Ammonites; 22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, the kings of the islands across the sea; 23 Dedan, Tema, Buz, all the people with shaven temples; 24 all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the conglomeration of peoples who live in the desert 25 all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; 26 all the kings of the north, near and far, one after another: in short, all the kingdoms on the face of the earth. As for the king of Sheshak, he will drink last of all.

The verses in 13b-30 are in prose. Verse 13b is an introduction to the oracles against the nations that begins with Jeremiah's vision of Yahweh's "cup of wrath." In this passage, Jeremiah is commissioned to act as the Divine King's cup bearer and royal herald by delivering God's message of judgment of wrath to the nations.

Question: Jeremiah's oracle isn't just for Judah and Jerusalem; it is also for the nations. His mission recalls what prophecy from Jeremiah's commissioning in 1:5 and 10?
Answer: Yahweh told Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you: I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (1:5); and also, "Look, today I have set you over the nations and kingdoms ..." (1:10).

Question: How is the extent of Jeremiah's authority beyond the covenant people to include the Gentile nations similar to a prophecy made by St. Simeon concerning baby Jesus in Luke 2:31-32?
Answer: As God's Supreme prophet, St. Simeon prophesied Jesus' authority as "a light of revelation for the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel."

15 For Yahweh, the God of Israel, said this to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath and make all nations to whom I send you drink it..."
When Jeremiah was commissioned, Yahweh told Jeremiah that He appointed him as a prophet "over nations and kingdoms, to uproot and to knock down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jer 1:10). Jeremiah is not just a prophet to Judah. He gives the cup of God's wrathful destiny to all the nations that are neighbors of Judah (1:5, 10).

Drinking wine is one of the reoccurring symbolic images of the prophets that describe the covenant's people relationship with God. As in the other symbolic images, there are four parts or stages for the wine imagery. See the chart below:

Symbolic imagery of the covenant relationship using the metaphor of drinking wine:

Drinking Wine Part I
Joy of drinking good wine
Part II
Becoming drunk
Part III
Loss of wine; drinking the "cup of God's wrath"
Part IV
Rejoicing in the best "new wine" at the Master's table
Examples in Scripture Isaiah 25:6-8; 62:8-9; 65:13; Jeremiah 31:12; 40:12 Isaiah 5:11-12; 28:1; Jeremiah 8:13; 48:26; 51:7; Joel 1:5 Psalm 11:6; 75:8/9; Isaiah 51:17-23; 63:2-3; Jeremiah 13:12-14; 25:15-31; 49:12; 51:6-7; 48:26; Lamentations 4:21;
Ezekiel 23:31-34; Joel 4:13; Habakkuk 2:16
Zechariah 9:15-16; Joel 4:18; Amos 9:13
Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Revelation 19:7-9
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2000

Verses 15-16 are a directive to Jeremiah in a vision, and verses 17-26 report the fulfillment of the directive. In verse 17, Jeremiah responds to the vision by taking the cup of judgment for the nations from Yahweh's hand. The people of Judah had a similar forced drinking in Jeremiah 13:12-14.

Question: Who are those forced to drink from the "cup of Yahweh's wrath" in verses 17-26?
Answer: The cup of wrath is for all the nations in the region, including all the people in the towns, their kings, and their chief men/ministers.

The Hebrew word translated "chief men" is sar (Strong's H8269) and means "a head person of any rank or class including a prince or royal minister." The group probably not only included royal ministers like Ahikam (26:24) but also members of the nobility, Davidic princes and ministers/elders.

The nations listed in verses 18-26 were all part of the Babylonian Empire. The list falls into four groups listed according to geographic location, beginning with nations to the west of Judah, then the nations on the east across the Jordan River, the nations to the southeast, and finally the nations in the far northeast. These nations are in the same order in which they appear in the oracles against the nations in Chapters 46-51:

  1. Judah and her rulers are the first to drink from God's "cup of wrath" and judgment (25:18).
  2. Egypt, in North Africa, is listed in Jeremiah's oracle in 46:2-28.
  3. Uz was in the Arabian Desert east of Israel, between north-western Arabia and Edom; it was the home of Job (Job 1:1) and is named in Lamentations 4:21 (also see Gen 36:28).
  4. Edom,
  5. Moab, and
  6. Ammon were nations on the east side of the Jordan River (Transjordan). Their people were descendants of Jacob's brother Esau (Edom) and Abraham's nephew Lot (Moab and Ammon). These nations are in the oracles of 48:1-49:22.
  7. Ashkelon,
  8. Gaza,
  9. Ekron, and
  10. Ashdod were independent Philistines city-states along the Mediterranean coast and they are in the oracle of Chapter 47.
  11. Tyre and
  12. Sidon were independent Phoenician city-states on the Mediterranean coast in what is modern Lebanon.
  13. Dedan was a North Arabian tribe on the border with Edom to the southeast (see 49:8).
  14. Tema was a tribe from the Syrian Desert (see Gen 25:15).
  15. Buz was a tribe descended from Abraham's brother Nabor in the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula (Gen 22:21).
  16. Arabia refers to the desert peoples of the Arabian Peninsula (Jer 49:28-33).
  17. The peoples with shaven temples are other Arab tribes (Jer 9:25).
  18. The land of Zimri or perhaps Zimki is an unknown location.
  19. Elam and
  20. Media are territories in modern Iran and Afghanistan (Jer 49:34-49).
  21. Sheshak/Sheshach, a coded reference to Babylon, is the last to drink from God's cup of judgment when the nation is conquered by the Persians in 539 BC.

Jeremiah's oracle dooms twenty nations or city-states to drink the "cup" of Yahweh's wrath when the nations and their people fall under the "yoke" of the victorious Babylonians. Babylon, the twenty-first nation named, will be the last to drink the "cup of wrath" when the Persians conquer the Babylonian Empire in October 539 BC. The neo-Babylonian Empire covered the territories of modern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.

Question: What reason does God give for this harsh judgment in verse 14b? What is the message for us today?
Answer: All nations of the earth are under God's sovereign judgment. He will deliver His justice to all nations "as their deeds and handiwork deserve." God bases all of His divine blessings and judgments on deeds, whether the good deeds of mercy and goodness or bad deeds of selfishness and evil.

Jeremiah 25:27-29 ~ Jeremiah's First Oracle: Destruction to the Nations
27 "You will say to them, Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: Drink! Get drunk! Vomit! Fall, never to rise again, before the sword that I am sending among you!' 28 If they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, you will say to them Yahweh Sabaoth says this: You must drink! 29 Look, for a start, I am bringing disaster on the city that bears my name, so are you likely to go unpunished? You certainly will not go unpunished, for next I shall summon a sword against all the inhabitants of the land, Yahweh declares.'

The first oracle demands that the nations of the region submit to Babylon. If the nations refuse to submit, Jeremiah is to deliver a curse on the nations (verse 27-28). They will become drunk on their sins, and unable to wield their swords in their defense, they are defenseless.

Jeremiah 25:30-38 ~ The Second Oracle
30 "For your part, you are to prophesy all these words to them. Say to them: Yahweh roars from on high, he thunders from his holy dwelling-place, loudly he roars at his own fold [pasture], shouts aloud like those who tread the grape at all the inhabitants of the land. 31 The noise resounds to the remotest parts of the earth. For Yahweh is indicting [riv = lawsuit] the nations, arraigning all humanity for judgment; the wicked he assigns to the sword, Yahweh declares. 32 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: look, disaster is spreading from nation to nation, a mighty tempest is rising from the far ends of the earth. 33 Those slaughtered by Yahweh that day will be scattered across the world from end to end. No dirge will be raised for them; no one will gather them or bury them; they will stay lying on the surface like dung. 34 Howl, shepherds, shriek, roll on the ground, you lords of the flock, for your days have come to be slaughtered and to be scattered, and like a choice vase you will fall. 35 No refuge then for the shepherds, no escape for the lords of the flock! 36 Listen! A shriek from the shepherds, a howl from the lords of the flock! For Yahweh has laid their pasture waste, 37 the peaceful sheepfolds are reduced to silence owing to Yahweh's furious anger. 38 The lion has left his lair and their country is a wasteland now, owing to the devastating fury, owing to his furious anger.'" [...] = literal translation IBHE, vol. IV, page 1800, Lundbom, Jeremiah 21-26, page 271.

Jeremiah's oracles against the nations in verses 30-38 are in poetry except verse 33 which is in prose, and are bound together by images of Yahweh as a lion (see verse 30 twice and verse 38). Verses 30-31 contain two references to Yahweh in the third person, but at the conclusion is an oracle with a Yahweh formula statement which indicates Yahweh as the speaker.

30 Yahweh roars from on high, he thunders from his holy dwelling-place, loudly he roars at his own fold [pasture], shouts aloud like those who tread the grape at all the inhabitants of the land.
Jeremiah's oracle uses two images for Yahweh bringing judgment: a lion roaring and treaders who sing or shout as they trample grapes with their feet to squeeze out the red grape juice from the trampled grapes. The image of God treading wicked nations the way grapes are trodden is also found in Isaiah 63:1-6 and Lamentations 1:15.(3)

"Yahweh roars from on high" portrays God as a lion roaring in judgment from His heavenly abode against His people (verse 30) and the nations (verses 32-38) of His pasture on earth. It may be that earlier prophets like Amos influenced Jeremiah, since these verses echo earlier prophecies with the same imagery.(2) Verses 30-31 also describe a universal judgment similar to the prophecy in Isaiah Chapter 66. Like a lion, God roars literally at "His own pasture," the land He gave to Israel, the "sheep of His flock." The Hebrew word naweh means "pasture" where a shepherd grazes his sheep (see for example Ps 23:1-2 and Jer 33:12). However, this "pasture" is not confined to Judah. The "pastures" are of the earth and nations of the earth (see 49:19-20 and 50:44-45).

shouts aloud like those who tread the grape at all the inhabitants of the land.
Question: How does the metaphor used in the oracle shift in this verse?
Answer: The oracle shifts from the metaphor of the roaring lion to the metaphor of those treading grapes in a wine press.

In ancient times (and in underdeveloped countries today), workers treaded grapes by foot in wine production. Those laboring to produce the juice from the grapes typically sang or shouted as they worked, sometimes accompanied by musicians to help them keep a rhythm. The roar may also refer to the sound of the approaching army and the shouts of the enemy soldiers, perhaps shouting or even singing as they march in formation. The sound of their coming will reach deafening levels. The result of the judgment is the flow of blood, as red as that of crushed grapes, caused by the enemy soldiers treading on the bodies of the crushed lives of all who resisted them.

31b For Yahweh is indicting [riv = lawsuit] the nations, arraigning all humanity for judgment; the wicked he assigns to the sword, Yahweh declares.
This passage repeats the courtroom language that we first heard in Jeremiah 2:9 (also see Is 34:8; 41:1, 21; Ez 44:24; Hos 4:1; 12:2; Mic 6:2; and 2 Chr 19:8). The Hebrew word "riv/rib" (Strongs H7319) and means a "contest (whether personal or legal), a case, or controversy." Yahweh "is indicting the nations," including Judah, in a lawsuit on behalf of the innocent who suffer and cry out to God for justice, like the blood of Abel in Genesis 4:10. The enemy "from the far ends of the north," the Babylonians, will act as God's instrument in bringing His judgment to Judah and their neighboring nations (verses 32-33).

32 Yahweh Sabaoth says this: look, disaster is spreading from nation to nation, a mighty tempest is rising from the far ends of the earth.
The expression "from the far ends of the earth" or "the remote parts of the earth" is found only in Jeremiah (see 6:22; 25:32; 31:8; and 51:41) and impresses on the reader the total sovereignty of Yahweh over the earth. This brief oracle in verses 32-33, like the one preceding it, can be dated any time after 605 BC when Jeremiah addressed oracles to the foreign nations. The "disaster" that is spreading from nation to nation is Yahweh's cup of divine judgment.

36 Listen! A shriek from the shepherds, a howl from the lords of the flock! For Yahweh has laid their pasture waste, 37 the peaceful sheepfolds are reduced to silence owing to Yahweh's furious anger.
In verses 34-38, the oracle concludes with God making His case against the leaders ("shepherds") of Judah and the leaders of the other nations who He holds responsible for not correcting the sins of their people and securing justice in the land. They will feel the full force of Yahweh's judgment. Verses 37-38 are a summary of the devastation of the impending judgment, while verses 17-26 make it clear that that it is the nation's kings who deserve Yahweh's cup of wrath. The "shepherds"/rulers, like the "lords"/nobles of the flock, will find no place of refuge (verse 35). The once peaceful sheepfolds are now deadly silent; it is an ironic transformation from one kind of "peaceful" tranquility to another.

38 The lion has left his lair and their country is a wasteland now, owing to the devastating fury, owing to [before] his furious [burning] anger.
Yahweh is the subject of the verb and again is metaphorically the lion. The literal Hebrew phrase "before his burning anger" is a repeat of Jeremiah 4:26. The imagery of the cup oracle infers a vision of a banquet table where all the kings of wicked nations are invited and commanded to drink the cup of Yahweh's wrath, as opposed to the just who can look forward to drinking the best wine at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb and His Bride in Revelation 19:5-9.

Chapter 26: The Arrest and Trial of Jeremiah

The event in Chapter 26 dates to the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah who ruled from 609-598 BC. Therefore, the events probably date to about 608 BC, four years before Jeremiah's oracle concerning the acceptance of Babylonian rule in chapter 25. Jeremiah opponents arrest him and put him on trial for sedition as a result of the Temple sermon Yahweh commanded him to give in 26:1-6. While his accusers are the priests and false prophets, he has friends among the princes and the king's ministers, especially Ahikam. Jeremiah's excommunication from the Temple took place shortly after this event in about 605 BC (see Jer 25:1 and 36:1, 5).

Jeremiah 26:1-6 ~ Oracle Prophesying the Destruction of the Temple
1 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, 2 "Yahweh says this, Stand in the court of the Temple of Yahweh. To all the people from the towns of Judah who come to worship in the Temple of Yahweh you will say everything I have ordered you to say, not omitting one syllable. 3 Perhaps they will listen and each turn from his evil way: if so, I shall relent and not bring the disaster on them which I intend because of their misdeeds.' 4 Say to them, Yahweh says this: if you will not listen to me and follow my Law which I have given you, 5 and pay attention to the words of my servants the prophets whom I have never tired of sending to you, although you never have paid attention, 6 I shall treat this Temple as I treated Shiloh, and make this city a curse for all the nations of the world.'"

All of Chapter 26 is in prose except for verse 18b which is a quotation from Micah 3:12. King Jehoiakim began his reign in 609 BC. Therefore, this oracle is dated to before Jeremiah's excommunication from the Temple that occurred sometime between 608 and 605 BC (Jer 36:1, 5). In fact, this event, and the preaching in the Temple in 19:14-20:2 that probably took place in the same year, may have led to Jeremiah's excommunication from the Temple by the religious authorities.

In this oracle, Jeremiah is commanded to tell the people that Yahweh offers His mercy and forgiveness if only the people will repent. That "all the people from the towns of Judah" are coming to worship in the Temple suggests this event took place during one of the three pilgrim feasts: Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks (called "Pentecost" in Jesus' time), or Feast of Tabernacles.(4) The vision and oracle of the two baskets of figs in 24:1-16 probably took place after the chief priests banned Jeremiah from the Temple, and therefore came after this oracle. The vision of the figs suggest that oracle took place during the pilgrim feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) when every righteous man of the covenant was to present himself at Yahweh Temple for the festival's eight days of liturgical services and sacrifices.

Question: If the people refuse to repent, how will God treat Jerusalem and the Temple like Shiloh? See 1 Sam 4 and Ps 78:56-60. Shiloh, about 25 miles (40 Lm) north of Jerusalem, was the location of the first Sanctuary of Yahweh in the Promised Land in the era of the Judges of Israel.
Answer: It was because of idol worship and the wickedness of the people that God allowed the Philistines to destroy the Sanctuary at Shiloh and capture the Ark of the Covenant.

Jeremiah gave the same warning concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by making the comparison to Shiloh in Jeremiah 7:12-14.

Jeremiah 26:7-10 ~ Jeremiah is Arrested
7 The priests and prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah say these words in the Temple of Yahweh. 8 When Jeremiah had finished saying everything that Yahweh had ordered him to say to all the people, the priests and prophets and all the people seized hold of him and said, "You will die for this! 9 Why have your made this prophecy in Yahweh's name, This Temple will become like Shiloh, and this city become an uninhabited ruin'?" And the people all crowded in on Jeremiah in the Temple of Yahweh. 10 Hearing of this, the chief men of Judah came up from the royal palace to the Temple of Yahweh and took their seats at the entry of the New Gate of the Temple of Yahweh.

The "chief men of Judah" came from the royal palace to hear Jeremiah's trial. In ancient times, justice was often carried out at a city gate (see the Book of Ruth, 4:1-12), and it is at the "New Gate" (an unknown location near the Temple and the royal palace) that Jeremiah's enemies call a court of inquiry into session to deal with Jeremiah's offense. The charge was probably that of sedition against the Temple and the Davidic king.

Question: Why do the priests call for Jeremiah's death in verse 8? See Dt 18:20.
Answer: They are upset that Jeremiah is threatening the Temple, the center of liturgical worship and the source of their livelihood. Therefore, they accuse him of being a false prophet, the penalty for which is death.

Jeremiah 26:11-15 ~ Jeremiah Defends Himself
11 The priests and prophets then said to the chief men and all the people, "This man deserves to die, since he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears." 12 Jeremiah, however, replied to all the chief men and all the people as follows, "Yahweh himself sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city all the things you have heard. 13 So now amend your behavior and actions, listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and Yahweh will relent about the disaster that he has decreed for you. 14 For myself, I am, as you see, in your hands. Do whatever you please or think right with me. 15 But be sure of this, that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood on yourselves, on this city and on its inhabitants, since Yahweh has truly sent me to you to say all this for you to hear."

Question: What group of Jews act as the plaintiffs in Jeremiah's trial and what group of Jews serve as the jury?
Answer: The priests and prophets are the plaintiffs in Jeremiah's trial while the civil leaders and the people serve as the jury.
Question: What is the accusation made against Jeremiah that the priests and prophets say deserves the death sentence?
Answer: Jeremiah has acted as a traitor in prophesying destruction against the city and the Temple, and they denounce him as a false prophet who deserves death.

Jeremiah's trial foreshadows Jesus' trial by the Jewish religious authorities in the Gospels. The same statement in Jeremiah 26:11 that Jeremiah deserved to die will be repeated by the chief priests about Jesus in Matthew 26:65-66 at His trial by the Jewish Sanhedrin.
Question: When did Jesus also prophesy against the city of Jerusalem and the Temple and of what was Jesus accused at His trial before the Jewish court? See Mt 24:3; 26:59-61, 66; Mk 14:55-58, 64; Jn 2:19.
Answer: Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. His claim was repeated at His trial, and like Jeremiah the religious authorities said He deserved to die.

Jeremiah knows these men do not control his destiny. He knows that God promised him divine protection (Jer 1:8). Therefore, Jeremiah challenges them to kill him, but at the same time reminds them of the penalty for shedding the innocent blood of Yahweh's prophet.

Jeremiah 26:16-24 ~ Jeremiah's Defenders
16 The chief men and all the people then said to the priests and prophets. "This man does not deserve to die: he has spoken to us in the name of Yahweh our God." 17 And some of the country's elders rose to address all the assembled people. 18 "Micah of Moresheth," they said, "who prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, had this to say to all the people of Judah, Yahweh Sabaoth says this: Zion will become ploughland, Jerusalem a heap of rubble and the Temple Mount a wooded height.' 19 "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death for this? Did they not rather, fearing Yahweh, plead with him, to such effect that Yahweh relented about the disaster which he had decreed for them? Are we now to burden our souls with such a crime?" 20 There was another man, too, who used to prophesy in Yahweh's name, Uriah son of Shemaiah, from Kiriath-Jearim. He prophesied exactly the same things against this city and this country as Jeremiah. 21 When King Jehoiakim with all his officers and all the chief men heard what he said, the king was determined to put him to death. On hearing this, Uriah took fright and, fleeing, escaped to Egypt. 22 King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Achbor to Egypt with others 23 who brought Uriah back from Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him put to the sword and his body thrown into the common burial ground. 24 But Jeremiah had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.

Question: What two points do Jeremiah's defenders make in his defense in verses 16-19?

  1. They testify that Jeremiah does not deserve to die just because he spoke in the name of Yahweh.
  2. They cite a historical precedent for Jeremiah's prophecy from the time of King Hezekiah when the prophet Micah also prophesied the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, and he suffered no punishment.

Micah of Moresheth was a prophet in the eighth century BC during the reigns of Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah (Mic 1:1). Micah's prophecies attacked the corruption and injustice of the priests, false prophets, royal officials, and the people. He also pronounced judgment and punishment for the Northern Kingdom and Judah, and he foretold a final restoration of Israel. His prophetic book is among the books of the Minor Prophets.

22 King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Achbor to Egypt with others 23 who brought Uriah back from Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him put to the sword and his body thrown into the common burial ground.
However, after their comments in favor of Jeremiah's case, they give an example of the prophet Uriah who made the same prophecies for which King Jehoiakim executed him.(5)

24 But Jeremiah had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.
Ahikam son of Shaphan, an influential member of the royal court, came to Jeremiah's defense, and Jeremiah was released (2 Kng 22:12-14; 2 Chr 34:20).
Question: Who was Shaphan, the father of minister Ahikam? See 2 Kng 22:3-14.
Answer: During the reign of King Josiah, Shaphan was the royal scribe who, along with the High Priest Hilkiah and Shaphan's son, Ahikam, supported the king's religious reforms.

The family of Shaphan was always friendly to Jeremiah. In addition to Ahikam son of Shaphan (see 2 Kng 22:14), Gedaliah, a grandson of the royal scribe, will also become Jeremiah's protector (Jer 40:5-6).

Chapters 27: Jeremiah's Message of Submission to Babylon

Chapters 27-29 are in prose, and the focus of these chapters is submission to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Yahweh's servant who carries out His will. The object lesson and oracle are dated to the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah who ruled from 598 " 587 BC. 27:1-28:17 concern Jeremiah's prophecy of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon's conquest of the entire Levant, his plea for submission to the Babylonians, and Jeremiah's confrontation with the false prophet Hananiah.

Jeremiah 27:1-11 ~ Object Lesson #7: The Symbolic Yoke
1 At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh: 2 Yahweh said this to me, "Make yourself thongs and yokes and put them on your neck. 3 Then send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, through their envoys accredited to Zedekiah king of Judah in Jerusalem. 4 Give them the following message for their masters, Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says this: You must tell your masters this: 5 I by my great power and outstretched arm made the earth, the human beings and the animals that are on earth, and I give them to whom I please. 6 For the present, I have handed all these countries over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, my servant; I have even put the wild animals at his service. 7 All the nations will serve him, his son and his grandson, until the time for his own country comes in its turn, when mighty nations and great kings will enslave him. 8 Any nation or kingdom that will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and will not bow its neck to the yoke of the king of Babylon, I shall punish that nations with the sword, famine and plague, Yahweh declares, until I have destroyed it by his hand. 9 For your own part, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, dreamers, magicians and sorcerers, who tell you: You will not be enslaved by the king of Babylon. 10 They prophesy lies to you, the result of which will be that you will be banished from your soil, that I shall drive you out, and you will perish. 11 The nation, however, that is prepared to bend its neck to the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I shall leave in peace on its own soil, Yahweh declares, to farm it and stay on it.'"

This episode is Jeremiah's seventh object lesson. Yahweh commands him to make thongs/straps and yokes to wear on his neck similar to what domesticated animals wear when they are subject to their master's bidding. He is commanded to send yokes to the different kings of the region through their official ambassadors in Jerusalem. He is also commanded to go about the city of Jerusalem wearing his yoke and preaching that his yoke serves as a symbol for the "yoke" of the Babylonians that the kings and peoples will wear when the Babylonians conquer the region. For the second time in verse 6, Yahweh refers to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as His servant (see 25:9). The only other Gentile king honored as a servant of Yahweh is King Cyrus of Persia who is called God's "anointed one" in Isaiah 45:1.

Question: What will happen to the nations that refuse to accept the Babylonian yoke as opposed to the nations that "bend its neck to the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him"?
Answer: The nation and its people who resist the "yoke" of the Babylonians will perish. The nations and people that do not resist, God promises, shall live in peace.

Verse 7 provides the prophecy that the Babylonian oppression will end in three generations. King Nebuchadnezzar II succeeded his father in 605 BC, Nabopolassar, the founder of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son, Amel-Marduk/Evil-Merodach (562-560 BC) who was assassinated by a brother-in-law. The Neo-Babylonian period ended with the reign of Nabonidus (556-539 BC).

Jeremiah 27:12-15 ~ The Oracle to King Zedekiah
12 To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in exactly the same terms. "Bend your necks," I told him, "to the yoke of the king of Babylon, serve him and his people and you will survive. 13 Why so anxious to do, you and your people, by sword, famine and plague, with which Yahweh has threatened the nation refusing to serve the king of Babylon? 14 Do not listen to the words the prophets say to you, You will not be enslaved by the king of Babylon.' They prophesy lies to you. 15 Since I have not sent them, Yahweh declares, they prophesy untruths to you in my name. The result will be that I shall drive you out, you will perish and so will the prophets who prophesy to you."

Jeremiah gives the same message to King Zedekiah, telling him, if he wants to survive and to spare the people further hardship, he must submit to the King of Babylon and not listen to the lying false prophets.

Jeremiah 27:16-26 ~ The Oracle to the Priests and the People
16 I also spoke to the priests and to all this people as follows, "Yahweh says this, Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you as follows: Look, the vessels of the Temple of Yahweh will very shortly be brought back from Babylon. They prophesy lies to you. 17 Do not listen to them, serve the king of Babylon and you will survive. Why should this city become a ruin? 18 If they are real prophets, if Yahweh's word is really with them, they ought now to be pleading with Yahweh Sabaoth that the remaining vessels in the Temple of Yahweh, in the palace of the king of Judah and elsewhere in Jerusalem, do not go to Babylon too! 19 For this is what Yahweh Sabaoth says about the pillars, the Sea, the stands and the other vessels still remaining in this city, 20 those not carried off by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon when he took Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon with all the leading men of Judah and Jerusalem. 21 Yes, this is what Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, says about the vessels still remaining in the Temple of Yahweh, in the palace of the king of Judah and elsewhere in Jerusalem: 22 They will be carried off to Babylon and stay there until the day I punish them, Yahweh declares. Then I shall bring them back and restore them to this palace.'"

The message to the priests and the people also urges submission to Babylon and to be wary of false prophets. 2 Kings 24:11-13 records that in 598 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jechoniah/Jehoiachin and the Queen mother and took them into exile, he also took away many treasures of the Temple, the leading ministers, and the best of the artisans.

19 For this is what Yahweh Sabaoth says about the pillars, the Sea, the stands and the other vessels still remaining in this city, 20 those not carried off by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon when he took Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon with all the leading men of Judah and Jerusalem.
Jeremiah warns in verses 19-22 that the Babylonians will take the remaining vessels of the Temple and the royal palace treasurers if the people do not submit to the Babylonians. The passage names several sacred items of the Temple:

  1. The pillars were magnificent bronze columns named Jachin and Boaz that flanked the entrance to the great Sanctuary hall of the Temple (1 Kng 7:21-22).
  2. The "Sea" was a basin of holy water that the priest used for ritual purification before he served at the altar of sacrifice (1 Kng 7:23-26). In the same way, our priests purify their hands with water before taking up the bread and the wine that becomes the Body and Blood of Christ as they serve at the altar.
  3. The "stands" are the ten bronze laver stands inside the Temple used to wash the animal sacrifice (1 Kng 7:27-39).

2 Kings 25:13-17 records that these and other Temple items were broken apart and taken to Babylon. Persian King Cyrus fulfills the prophecy in verse 22 when he returns the people and the Temple treasures to Judah (Ezra 1:1-11).

Chapter 28: Jeremiah's Dispute with Hananiah

Jeremiah 28:1-4 ~ Hananiah Confronts Jeremiah
1 That same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, a Gibeonite, spoke as follows to Jeremiah in the Temple of Yahweh in the presence of the priests and of all the people. 2 "Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 In exactly two years' time I shall bring back all the vessels of the Temple of Yahweh which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from here and carried off to Babylon. 4 And I shall also bring back Jechoniah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah and all the exiles of Judah who have gone to Babylon, Yahweh declares, for I shall break the yoke of the king of Babylon.'"

The event in this chapter dates to the fifth month of the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah (ruled 598-587 BC) in what is probably the month of Ab/Av (July/August) in about 594/3 BC, if the reference is to the liturgical calendar. However, if it is the fifth month of the civil calendar, the month is Sebat (January/February).

Hananiah, one of the false prophets Jeremiah warned about in Chapter 27, challenged Jeremiah in the Temple and prophesied the return of the Temple vessels taken by the Babylonians in 598 BC, the return of exiled king, and people within two years (2 Kng 24:8-17; 2 Chr 36:9-10).

Jeremiah 28:5-9 ~ Jeremiah's Reply to Hananiah
5 The prophet Jeremiah then replied to the prophet Hananiah in front of the priests and all the people present in the Temple of Yahweh. 6 "So be it!" the prophet Jeremiah said, "May Yahweh do so! May he fulfil the words that you have prophesied and bring all the vessels of the Temple of Yahweh and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. 7 Listen carefully, however, to this word that I am now going to say for you and all the people to hear: 8 From remote times, the prophets who preceded you and me prophesied war, disaster and plague for many countries and for great kingdoms; 9 the prophet who prophesies peace can be recognized as one truly sent by Yahweh only when his word comes true."

Jeremiah replies that he is in favor of peace and the return of the Temple vessels, the young king, and the other people taken into exile. However, he says, this is not the outcome for Judah preached by Yahweh's prophets for the past century since the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC. He reminds the people that the test of a true prophet is the fulfillment of what he preaches (Dt 18:21-22).

Jeremiah 28:10-17 ~ The End of the Confrontation Between Jeremiah and Hananiah
10 The prophet Hananiah then snatched the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it. 11 In front of all the people Hananiah then said, "Yahweh says this, This is how, in exactly two years' time, I shall break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and take it off the necks of all the nations." At this, the prophet Jeremiah went away. 12 After the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke he had snatched off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, 13 "Go to Hananiah and tell him this, Yahweh says this: You have broken the wooden yoke only to make iron yokes to replace them! 14 For Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: An iron yoke is what I now lay on the necks of all these nations to enslave them to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They will be enslaved to him; I have even given him the wild animals.'" 15 The prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, "Listen carefully, Hananiah; Yahweh has not sent you; and thanks to you this people is now relying on what is false. 16 And so, Yahweh says this, I am going to send you off the face of the earth: you will die this year since you have preached rebellion against Yahweh.'" 17 The prophet Hananiah died the same year, in the seventh month.

Hananiah, in a display of brazen impudence, attacked Jeremiah. He broke Jeremiah's symbolic yoke (28:10) and announced it as a prophetic action, symbolizing that his message takes precedence over Jeremiah's message. His prophecy is the end of the Babylonian threat within two years. The contest between the two prophets ends in a tie and Jeremiah leaves.

In verses 13-16, God gives Jeremiah an oracle just for Hananiah. He returns to Hananiah with the new oracle of an iron yoke to symbolize the message that submission of Babylon is not a broken yoke "it is an inevitable fact. Jeremiah's prediction reinforces the symbol that Hananiah is a false prophet. Hananiah died two months later, suffering the punishment in Deuteronomy 18:20 that the chief priests intended for Jeremiah in 26:8.

Question for reflection or group discussion:
How have certain members of the news media or some politicians become the false prophets of our times? How, like the false prophets of old, do they attempt to influence public opinion by their predictions designed to move forward their personal or social agendas?

1. Referring to Babylonia as Shechach is a coded reference that employs a technique called "atbash." The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is substituted for the first, the penultimate letter for the second, and so on. Therefore, Babylon which is spelled "b-b-l" in Hebrew, becomes "sh-sh-kh," because the letters "shin" = "bet" and "kaf" = "lamed."

2. See Amos 1:2 and Joel 4:16 where Yahweh is portrayed as a lion roaring and bring judgment; from Zion. In Jeremiah 26:30, Yahweh's roaring comes from His heavenly Sanctuary, but it is probably an echo of the earlier passages since in all three Yahweh roars against his covenant people and also against other nations.

3. The image of God's cup of wrath and the treading of the vintage in Isaiah 63:1-6 and Revelation chapter 19 inspired Julia Ward Howe to write the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." The phrase, "He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored...," links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age with the violence of the American Civil War.

4. Passover on Abib/Nisan the 15th was not a pilgrim feast, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread that began the next day and lasted a week was a mandatory pilgrim feast. Scripture lists the compulsory pilgrim feasts in Ex 23:14-17; 34:18, 22-24; Dt 16:16; and 2 Chr 8:13. The other annual feasts were voluntary and appear in Lev 23:5-44 and again in Num 28:16-29:39, along with the daily liturgical Temple worship, the weekly Sabbath, and the monthly "new moon" feasts.

5. A packet of letters discovered at the fortress city of Lachish in Judah, southwest of Jerusalem, refers to "the commander of the host, Chebariah, son of Elnathan, having passed by on his way to Egypt." The letter appears to support the account of the incident told in Jeremiah 26:20-24 concerning the prophet Uriah being brought back from Egypt by men sent by the king.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2016 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for this lesson (* indicated that Scripture is either quoted or paraphrased in the catechism citation):

Jer 27:5 (CCC 269*)