The Book of Jeremiah
Chapters 33 to 36
A Biblical Commentary Courtesy of Brit-Am
AND THERE WAS ALSO A MAN THAT PROPHESIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, URIJAH THE SON OF SHEMAIAH OF KIRJATHJEARIM, WHO PROPHESIED AGAINST THIS CITY AND AGAINST THIS LAND ACCORDING TO ALL THE WORDS OF JEREMIAH. [Jeremiah 26:20]
The intention may indeed be to Uriah though some of the details remain unclear and so does the exact timing. Others say that the intention is to Jeremiah himself, i.e. “Yirmi-yahu” in Hebrew. Alternately there may have been another prophet who fulfilled the same role as Jeremiah at the very same time but who was perhaps less important and at all events was not written about and therefore has been forgotten.
The Prophet spoken of in the inscriptions of Lachish was criticizing the policies of Judah and claimed they were bringing destruction on the nation. Prominent nobles in Jerusalem were against the Prophet and were attempting to restrict his activities. The nobles claimed that the Prophet was weakening the morale of the people. Some of the letters are directed to the Prophet himself and expressly warn him to cease from his invocations that negate the policies of the king. The Governor Yaush and Hoshiyahu appear to be attempting to protect the Prophet for his own sake. They imply that members of the Royal Court intend him harm.
We have here archaeological findings that confirm the Biblical account or at the least correspond with the historical and social background as described by the Bible.
There follows a long and controversial posting and I hope that nobody is offended
and that I have not been unfair.
Remember, All the Israelites were slaves and oppressed strangers in Egypt. This is what the Bible tells us repeatedly and emphasize so that we never forget. We are told to remember what we were and always be sensitive towards others:
[Exodus 22:21] THOU SHALT NEITHER VEX A STRANGER, NOR OPPRESS HIM: FOR YE WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
[Jeremiah 34:8] THIS IS THE WORD THAT CAME UNTO JEREMIAH FROM THE LORD, AFTER THAT THE KING ZEDEKIAH HAD MADE A COVENANT WITH ALL THE PEOPLE WHICH WERE AT JERUSALEM, TO PROCLAIM LIBERTY UNTO THEM;
[Jeremiah 34:9] THAT EVERY MAN SHOULD LET HIS MANSERVANT, AND EVERY MAN HIS MAIDSERVANT, BEING AN HEBREW OR AN HEBREWESS, GO FREE; THAT NONE SHOULD SERVE HIMSELF OF THEM, TO WIT, OF A JEW HIS BROTHER.
This is a problematic passage. This commentary of ours concentrates on Brit-Am subjects and also here and there discusses other matters that may not necessarily be closely related. Where and when we depart from standard Brit-Am material we do so with reluctance and with the intended hope not to be diverted from our main theme. Nevertheless all of the Bible expresses Divine Truth and at a higher level every segment is interrelated with the others.
There were two types of slave in Ancient Israel:
1. “Eved Canaani” i.e. A Canaanite Slave meaning a non-Israelite slave acquired from the surrounding peoples. This type of slave was called a “Canaanite” not because he was of Canaanite origin but rather because he had been acquired from neighboring non-Israelite peoples who at first dwelt in the Land of Canaan. In principle such a slave should not be freed unless he has suffered damage resulting in the loss of a limb or tooth. If his master does free him however he is legally freed. Upon being freed he has the rights and status of a full-born Israelite.
2. “Eved Ivri” i.e. Hebrew Slave. He was more like an indentured servant. He could serve for a maximum of seven years after which he had to be freed unless he did not want to be. If he did not want to be freed he had his ear pierced and continued to serve until the Jubilee Year when he was freed whether he wanted to be or not. When being freed he was to receive monetary compensation. Even while a “slave” he had definite rights and could not be expected to do debasing tasks or receive living conditions too much less than those of his master. In certain circumstances his master had to put the living conditions of his Hebrew slave before those of himself. His master had also to support the wife and children of his Hebrew Slave. The Institution of “Eved Ivri” was only valid in a strict sense as long as the Jubilee Year was celebrated. The Jubilee Year required that every person should return to the hereditary holding of his family. The Jubilee Year could only be celebrated when all of the Twelve Tribes were settled in their Tribal Inheritances in the Land of Israel. Even if all of the Tribes were in the land but they were not stationed in their Tribal Inheritances the Jubilee Year could not be celebrated. Once the Ten Tribes were exiled the Jubilee Year could no longer be celebrated. The Institution of “Aved Ivri” (Hebrew Slave) was therefore not valid.
Nevertheless it seems that people continued with the practice of indentured servitude even though it was no longer strictly valid. King Zedekiah attempted to abolish it and was at first successful. It appears that as the reign of King Zedekiah progressed and as the pressure of the Babylonians increased so to did the power of the king decrease. We have seen how the king himself had lenient tendencies towards Jeremiah but was pressured into taking action against him by the nobles. So too, in the case of Servitude does it appear that the nobles were able to reverse the reform of the king and once more force unfortunate individuals to act as their slaves.
The Talmud (Arakin 33;a) says that when the Tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Menasseh were exiled the practice of Jubilee Years and Hebrew Indenture was annulled. These were the first of the Ten Tribes to be exiled and the Jubilee Year could only be practiced when all the Tribes were in the Land. After some of the Tribes were exiled the Jubilee year and associated Indenture was no longer valid. Rabbi Yochanan says that Jeremiah brought the Ten Tribes back and that King Josiah the son of Amon ruled over them. Rabbi Yochanan was claiming that since the Ten Tribes returned the Jubilee Year was re-instituted. The historical background to this claim was discussed in our book “The Tribes” and elsewhere at some length.
Other Talmudic sources and major Classical Commentaries on the Talmud emphasize that Jeremiah did not bring back ALL of the Ten Tribes but only a small section of them and that most of these returned to their places of exile when King Josiah was killed. In the time of King Josiah the Scythian-Israelites took over the Assyrian Empire, established a center at Beth-Shean in Israel and in co-ordination with King Josiah began to set up colonies in northern and western Israel. King Josiah was killed by the Egyptian adversaries of the Scythians. The Scythians were driven northwards by Babylonians and Medes. Consequently the Scythian-Israelites abandoned their colonies in the Land of Israel. This fits the Talmudic sources. It may be that under King Josiah an attempt was made to re-institute the Jubilee Year since representatives of the Tribes had begun to return. [This is a problematic possibility but it may have happened or been considered]. After the death of King Josiah and the Israelite-Scythian abandonment of their colonies there would have been no further justification to continue Hebrew Indenture. Even so some of the rich people and nobles may have done so for economic and social reasons. This was against the Law and therefore King Zedekiah (in one of his good moments) tried to stop it and was temporarily successful in doing so. After a time however the nobles re-asserted themselves and once again placed some of their Jewish brethren in servitude. This is what Jeremiah (below) is condemning them for.
The basic principles concerning the two types of slave are found in Leviticus chapter 25:
[Leviticus 25:38] I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHICH BROUGHT YOU FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, TO GIVE YOU THE LAND OF CANAAN, AND TO BE YOUR GOD.
[Leviticus 25:39] AND IF THY BROTHER THAT DWELLETH BY THEE BE WAXEN POOR, AND BE SOLD UNTO THEE; THOU SHALT NOT COMPEL HIM TO SERVE AS A BONDSERVANT:
[Leviticus 25:40] BUT AS AN HIRED SERVANT, AND AS A SOJOURNER, HE SHALL BE WITH THEE, AND SHALL SERVE THEE UNTO THE YEAR OF JUBILE.
[Leviticus 25:41] AND THEN SHALL HE DEPART FROM THEE, BOTH HE AND HIS CHILDREN WITH HIM, AND SHALL RETURN UNTO HIS OWN FAMILY, AND UNTO THE POSSESSION OF HIS FATHERS SHALL HE RETURN.
[Leviticus 25:42] FOR THEY ARE MY SERVANTS, WHICH I BROUGHT FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: THEY SHALL NOT BE SOLD AS BONDMEN.
[Leviticus 25:43] THOU SHALT NOT RULE OVER HIM WITH RIGOUR; BUT SHALT FEAR THY GOD.
[Leviticus 25:44] BOTH THY BONDMEN, AND THY BONDMAIDS, WHICH THOU SHALT HAVE, SHALL BE OF THE HEATHEN THAT ARE ROUND ABOUT YOU; OF THEM SHALL YE BUY BONDMEN AND BONDMAIDS.
[Leviticus 25:45] MOREOVER OF THE CHILDREN OF THE STRANGERS THAT DO SOJOURN AMONG YOU, OF THEM SHALL YE BUY, AND OF THEIR FAMILIES THAT ARE WITH YOU, WHICH THEY BEGAT IN YOUR LAND: AND THEY SHALL BE YOUR POSSESSION.
[Leviticus 25:46] AND YE SHALL TAKE THEM AS AN INHERITANCE FOR YOUR CHILDREN AFTER YOU, TO INHERIT THEM FOR A POSSESSION; THEY SHALL BE YOUR BONDMEN FOR EVER: BUT OVER YOUR BRETHREN THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, YE SHALL NOT RULE ONE OVER ANOTHER WITH RIGOUR.
[Leviticus 25:47] AND IF A SOJOURNER OR STRANGER WAX RICH BY THEE, AND THY BROTHER THAT DWELLETH BY HIM WAX POOR, AND SELL HIMSELF UNTO THE STRANGER OR SOJOURNER BY THEE, OR TO THE STOCK OF THE STRANGER'S FAMILY:
[Leviticus 25:48] AFTER THAT HE IS SOLD HE MAY BE REDEEMED AGAIN; ONE OF HIS BRETHREN MAY REDEEM HIM:
[Leviticus 25:49] EITHER HIS UNCLE, OR HIS UNCLE'S SON, MAY REDEEM HIM, OR ANY THAT IS NIGH OF KIN UNTO HIM OF HIS FAMILY MAY REDEEM HIM; OR IF HE BE ABLE, HE MAY REDEEM HIMSELF.
[Leviticus 25:50] AND HE SHALL RECKON WITH HIM THAT BOUGHT HIM FROM THE YEAR THAT HE WAS SOLD TO HIM UNTO THE YEAR OF JUBILE: AND THE PRICE OF HIS SALE SHALL BE ACCORDING UNTO THE NUMBER OF YEARS, ACCORDING TO THE TIME OF AN HIRED SERVANT SHALL IT BE WITH HIM.
[Leviticus 25:51] IF THERE BE YET MANY YEARS BEHIND, ACCORDING UNTO THEM HE SHALL GIVE AGAIN THE PRICE OF HIS REDEMPTION OUT OF THE MONEY THAT HE WAS BOUGHT FOR.
[Leviticus 25:52] AND IF THERE REMAIN BUT FEW YEARS UNTO THE YEAR OF JUBILE, THEN HE SHALL COUNT WITH HIM, AND ACCORDING UNTO HIS YEARS SHALL HE GIVE HIM AGAIN THE PRICE OF HIS REDEMPTION.
[Leviticus 25:53] AND AS A YEARLY HIRED SERVANT SHALL HE BE WITH HIM: AND THE OTHER SHALL NOT RULE WITH RIGOUR OVER HIM IN THY SIGHT.
[Leviticus 25:54] AND IF HE BE NOT REDEEMED IN THESE YEARS, THEN HE SHALL GO OUT IN THE YEAR OF JUBILE, BOTH HE, AND HIS CHILDREN WITH HIM.
[Leviticus 25:55] FOR UNTO ME THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ARE SERVANTS; THEY ARE MY SERVANTS WHOM I BROUGHT FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD.
We thus see that there were two types of slaves in Biblical Times:
Concerning (1) Hebrew Slaves: This was in effect an indentured servant for a limited period of time whose conditions in principle were supervised by the Court of Sages. The practice of indentured servitude existed in the USA and in Britain and Europe up to little more than ca 150 years ago. The conditions were often far worse that those propounded by the Bible. In Biblical Terms a person due to debt would sell his labor for a limited period of time. Alternately the Court would sell the labor of someone who had been caught stealing. Nowadays a person goes to jail for such deeds. In jail in our time a person is liable to be physically and sexually abused and is often treated most abjectly and unfairly and kept in unhealthy conditions with bad company. He often emerges from jail (if not killed in the process) in a much worse physical and moral condition than when he entered. The Biblical solution was probably a better one. Soldiers in basic training (“Rookies”) in Military Forces of nearly all nations are subjected to a regime that seeks to initially break their individuality and their ego in order to rebuild it as part of the group. This does not hold for the State of Israel where the Israeli Defence Forces tries not to break the ego but to work with it and redirect it positively. At all events soldiers (outside of Israel) in their “Rookie” stage actually submit to a state worse in some ways than the slavery of ancient times.
(2) Canaanite Slaves: Slavery existed. The Bible does not always take a moral stance but sometimes relates to reality as it then existed. We too have NOT come to moralize on every point only to discuss the subject matter as it stands. A “Canaanite” slave also had basic rights and in some ways was considered better off than a freed man since he was subject to less sexual prohibitions.
In other words in Biblical terms a Hebrew could not really become a “slave” in the full-fledged sense but rather he could become an indentured labor for a limited period of time.
A non-Israelite under certain conditions could be bought as a slave from surrounding nations. This person too had rights that the Court was supposed to protect. He was probably in many cases much better off being with the Hebrews than staying were he had been previously.
Slavery still exists today. It exists throughout Africa, in every Arab state, in Pakistan and in India. In one form or other it also exists throughout Asia and Latin America. It exists in Haiti and the Philippines. In China the whole population are slaves of the State. In Communist Nations they were all slaves and many people in countries that were once Communist preferred the Communist system. In pre-Revolutionary Russia 80% of the people were in effect slaves and were content with it. They would have preferred better material conditions but most of them appear to have been content with the actual servitude. Under Communism they continued to be slaves but the Communists tried to make them proud of it and some of them indeed were so.
Historically, most peoples of the world appear to have accepted slavery and to have been prepared to be slaves themselves.
“Islam” means “subjection” and becoming a Muslim means in effect adopting aspects of slavery. Hagar the mother of Ishmael (father of the Arabs) was a slave-woman.
In Japan every person was a slave of the one higher than himself on the social scale. If he offended someone higher than himself he could be expected to disembowel himself with a sword.
It seems that many people today in Third World countries and in Eastern Europe would willingly, if given the chance, become slaves of people in the West as long as their basic rights and minimum living conditions were ensured. We are not moralizing just describing things as they seem to be.
The Red Indians of North America were exceptional in so far that it was difficult and in some cases impossible to enslave them.
Also in Germany the conditions of many of the people until recently were like those of slaves. The Nazis in effect wanted to reduce the Germans to the status of slaves who would be compensated by ruling over other slaves.
Many people from Germany migrated to the USA since they did not want to remain in Germany where conditions were bad, their status was low and similar to that of “slaves”. Cf. the following article:
REASONS FOR EMIGRATION
Edited by Carol Gohsman Bowen
ONE OUT OF THREE MECKLENBURGERS LEFT HIS COUNTRY
In the middle of the past century Mecklenburg was one of the areas in Europe that was most affected by the emigration movement. Mass emigration is a sign of severe social crisis in any country. What reasons did so many people have to leave their country and hope for a better life abroad in the 19th century?
The emigration wave was not limited to Mecklenburg alone. It also covered all other parts of the fragmented German Empire. In all, several million people emigrated from Germany. The emigration movement spread to other European countries as well, but Mecklenburg was especially hard hit. In fact, after 1850, Mecklenburg had the third highest emigration count in Europe, superceded only by Ireland and Galicia ( land which is currently Poland and the Ukraine).
"And why have you left Germany?" asked Heinrich Heine in 1834, when he met some German emigrants in France on their way to North Africa. "The land is good, and we would have liked to stay", they replied, "but we just couldn't stand it any longer."
If asked that same question, many of the 261,000 Mecklenburgers that left their home country (the Grand duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz) between 1820 and 1890 would have given the same answer. Many people, especially those from the lower social classes, didn't have any prospects or future in Mecklenburg, since their lives were totally uprooted by the change from feudal rule to a civil-capitalist one.
Between 1850 and 1890 approximately 146,000 Mecklenburgers emigrated overseas, most going to the United States of America, but some also going to South America. Between 1820 and 1890 those going overseas accounted for two thirds of all the emigrants from Mecklenburg. The defeat of the civil-democratic revolution in 1848/49 and the return of the old social and political problems gave fresh impetus to this emigration movement.
This loss of population was most prevalent from the so-called flat or farm land. 88.5 % of all emigrants came from rural areas. Most of them came from the lands of the knights, from the manor houses of noble and titled big land-owners. These were the people who had the most compelling reasons for leaving Mecklenburg. This was mostly due to the miserable social conditions caused by the right of abode and the right of establishment rules which existed almost unchanged between 1820 and 1860.
These conditions came about when serfdom was annulled in Mecklenburg in 1820/21. At that time, many landowners took the opportunity to get rid of a lot of their day laborers who were now considered personally free according to the law. They began to run their lands with a minimum of permanent workers. The landowners did this so that they would not have to pay for any laborers who were injured or take care of them when they grew old. It was very difficult for day-laborers who were thrown out to find permanent work elsewhere because they needed to receive the right of establishment from the new employer. But that wasn't easy to get.
In 1861, an expert on Mecklenburg history, Ernst Boll, explained the right of abode and right of establishment in his Abriss der Mecklenburgischen Landeskunde this way: "a Mecklenburger does not belong to the country as a whole as far as his home is concerned. Rather, he belongs to the one city or village that he happens to be born in, or to the city or village where he has received the right of establishment."
The granting of the right to marry also depended on the granting of the right of establishment. and all subjects needed permission to marry before they could have a family. A man or woman who did not have the right of establishment could never establish a home. Therefore, the main problem for a common Mecklenburger was to get his own "Hüsung", but many did not succeed. A lot of people that worked as needed paid laborers were refused the right of establishment by the ruling class for their whole lives. They were given only a limited right to residence - only for as long as they had work. These were the inhumane conditions that existed. Mecklenburgers could become homeless in their own country.
Therefore it is no surprise that tens of thousands decided to emigrate rather than walking around homeless. In fact, the knights and landowners encouraged emigration at times. The loss of population in rural areas grew larger and larger. While there still was a population growth of 55,000 people between 1830 and 1850 despite the emigration, new births could not make up for the high number of emigrants between 1850 and 1905. The rural population dropped by 25,000.
After the German Empire was founded in 1871, industrialization spread and some cities expanded rapidly. The number of people that emigrated overseas decreased, and internal migration increased. More people that were willing to emigrate went to cities and industrial towns outside of Mecklenburg, such as the areas of Berlin and Hamburg rather than to America.
In 1900 approximately 224,692 people who were Mecklenburgers by birth lived outside of their home country. That was almost one third of the Mecklenburg total population. On December 1, 1900 there were 53,902 emigrants from Mecklenburg-Schwerin living in Hamburg-Altona.
Article from the "Mecklenburg Magazin" 1990/9 by Dr. sc. Klaus Baudis,
translation: Daniela Garling
People of Israelite origin never agreed to be enslaved for long periods of time. Even in Ancient times it was reported by the Romans that the Celts of Britain made bad slaves since they were too “Uppity” and always demanding their basic “rights”. Even so Britain was a source of slaves and later in Anglo-Saxon times we have reports that children of the Angles were being sold as slaves in Rome and that their parents or superiors had sold them.
“Britons Never Shall be Slaves!” used to be a popular slogan in the nineteenth century.
I repeat, All the Israelites were slaves and oppressed strangers in Egypt. This is what the Bible tells us repeatedly and emphasize so that we never forget. We are told to remember what we were and always be sensitive towards others:
[Exodus 22:21] THOU SHALT NEITHER VEX A STRANGER, NOR OPPRESS HIM: FOR YE WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
Our concepts of human dignity today are largely derived from what Americans call the “Judeo-Christian” tradition. There is something in this in so far as the higher beliefs in the dignity of man that are accepted in the West today derive from mainly from people of Israelite descent and from Jews. Those of Israelite descent are often motivated by Biblically derived principles that they received through Christianity. I believe that it is an inherited instinct that Biblical education and influence helps bring to conscious realization and dedicated motivation.
[Jeremiah 34:10] NOW WHEN ALL THE PRINCES, AND ALL THE PEOPLE, WHICH HAD ENTERED INTO THE COVENANT, HEARD THAT EVERY ONE SHOULD LET HIS MANSERVANT, AND EVERY ONE HIS MAIDSERVANT, GO FREE, THAT NONE SHOULD SERVE THEMSELVES OF THEM ANY MORE, THEN THEY OBEYED, AND LET THEM GO.
[Jeremiah 34:11] BUT AFTERWARD THEY TURNED, AND CAUSED THE SERVANTS AND THE HANDMAIDS, WHOM THEY HAD LET GO FREE, TO RETURN, AND BROUGHT THEM INTO SUBJECTION FOR SERVANTS AND FOR HANDMAIDS.
[Jeremiah 34:12] THEREFORE THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JEREMIAH FROM THE LORD, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 34:13] THUS SAITH THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; I MADE A COVENANT WITH YOUR FATHERS IN THE DAY THAT I BROUGHT THEM FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDMEN, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 34:14] AT THE END OF SEVEN YEARS LET YE GO EVERY MAN HIS BROTHER AN HEBREW, WHICH HATH BEEN SOLD UNTO THEE; AND WHEN HE HATH SERVED THEE SIX YEARS, THOU SHALT LET HIM GO FREE FROM THEE: BUT YOUR FATHERS HEARKENED NOT UNTO ME, NEITHER INCLINED THEIR EAR.
[Jeremiah 34:15] AND YE WERE NOW TURNED, AND HAD DONE RIGHT IN MY SIGHT, IN PROCLAIMING LIBERTY EVERY MAN TO HIS NEIGHBOUR; AND YE HAD MADE A COVENANT BEFORE ME IN THE HOUSE WHICH IS CALLED BY MY NAME:
[Jeremiah 34:16] BUT YE TURNED AND POLLUTED MY NAME, AND CAUSED EVERY MAN HIS SERVANT, AND EVERY MAN HIS HANDMAID, WHOM HE HAD SET AT LIBERTY AT THEIR PLEASURE, TO RETURN, AND BROUGHT THEM INTO SUBJECTION, TO BE UNTO YOU FOR SERVANTS AND FOR HANDMAIDS.
[Jeremiah 34:17] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD; YE HAVE NOT HEARKENED UNTO ME, IN PROCLAIMING LIBERTY, EVERY ONE TO HIS BROTHER, AND EVERY MAN TO HIS NEIGHBOUR: BEHOLD, I PROCLAIM A LIBERTY FOR YOU, SAITH THE LORD, TO THE SWORD, TO THE PESTILENCE, AND TO THE FAMINE; AND I WILL MAKE YOU TO BE REMOVED INTO ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH.
Because they were not merciful to their brothers they were to be punished. Note this punishment was gainst the Jewish people who were to be removed and scattered all over the earth as indeed happened. The Lost Ten Tribes were not scattered but were taken away in groups and more or less remained together in the same places.
[Jeremiah 34:18] AND I WILL GIVE THE MEN THAT HAVE TRANSGRESSED MY COVENANT, WHICH HAVE NOT PERFORMED THE WORDS OF THE COVENANT WHICH THEY HAD MADE BEFORE ME, WHEN THEY CUT THE CALF IN TWAIN, AND PASSED BETWEEN THE PARTS THEREOF,
[Jeremiah 34:19] THE PRINCES OF JUDAH, AND THE PRINCES OF JERUSALEM, THE EUNUCHS, AND THE PRIESTS, AND ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND, WHICH PASSED BETWEEN THE PARTS OF THE CALF;
“THE EUNUCHS” in Hebrew “Saris” is eunuch but it can also mean simply “official”. Under the Law a person is forbidden to make himself a eunuch or to otherwise make himself infertile. God wants us to be blessed and commands us to do what we can to receive HIS blessing.
[Jeremiah 34:20] I WILL EVEN GIVE THEM INTO THE HAND OF THEIR ENEMIES, AND INTO THE HAND OF THEM THAT SEEK THEIR LIFE: AND THEIR DEAD BODIES SHALL BE FOR MEAT UNTO THE FOWLS OF THE HEAVEN, AND TO THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH.
[Jeremiah 34:21] AND ZEDEKIAH KING OF JUDAH AND HIS PRINCES WILL I GIVE INTO THE HAND OF THEIR ENEMIES, AND INTO THE HAND OF THEM THAT SEEK THEIR LIFE, AND INTO THE HAND OF THE KING OF BABYLON'S ARMY, WHICH ARE GONE UP FROM YOU.
[Jeremiah 34:22] BEHOLD, I WILL COMMAND, SAITH THE LORD, AND CAUSE THEM TO RETURN TO THIS CITY; AND THEY SHALL FIGHT AGAINST IT, AND TAKE IT, AND BURN IT WITH FIRE: AND I WILL MAKE THE CITIES OF JUDAH A DESOLATION WITHOUT AN INHABITANT.
[Jeremiah 35:1] THE WORD WHICH CAME UNTO JEREMIAH FROM THE LORD IN THE DAYS OF JEHOIAKIM THE SON OF JOSIAH KING OF JUDAH, SAYING,
“THE DAYS OF JEHOIAKIM THE SON OF JOSIAH”: Josiah the son of Amon was followed by Jehoachaz, then Jehoiakim, then Jehoiakin, then Zedekiah. The previous prophecy (in chapter 34) was spoken in the time of Zedekiah. The various prophecies of Jeremiah were written down in different scrolls at different times. They were later gathered together in one book not according to the chronological order in which the prophecies were given but rather according to an inner connection of the subject matter (Rabbi Mordecai Machles).
[Jeremiah 35:2] GO UNTO THE HOUSE OF THE RECHABITES, AND SPEAK UNTO THEM, AND BRING THEM INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, INTO ONE OF THE CHAMBERS, AND GIVE THEM WINE TO DRINK.
The Rechabites normally were herdsmen and dwelt in tents. Due to the Babylonian campaign against Judah they had come into the city of Jerusalem for protection. We do not know who Rechab was but his son, Jehonadab the son of Rechab, lived in the time of Jehu the King of northern Israel and apparently dwelt in his area. He therefore had dwelt amongst they who became the Lost Ten Tribes but unlike many of them had not committed idolatry, cf.
“AND WHEN HE WAS DEPARTED THENCE, HE LIGHTED ON JEHONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB COMING TO MEET HIM: AND HE SALUTED HIM, AND SAID TO HIM, IS THINE HEART RIGHT, AS MY HEART IS WITH THY HEART? AND JEHONADAB ANSWERED, IT IS. IF IT BE, GIVE ME THINE HAND. AND HE GAVE HIM HIS HAND; AND HE TOOK HIM UP TO HIM INTO THE CHARIOT” [2-Kings 10:15]. When the Lost Ten Tribes were taken into exile a small number of refugees made their way to Judah in the south and were joined unto Judah.
[Jeremiah 35:3] THEN I TOOK JAAZANIAH THE SON OF JEREMIAH, THE SON OF HABAZINIAH, AND HIS BRETHREN, AND ALL HIS SONS, AND THE WHOLE HOUSE OF THE RECHABITES;
“THE RECHABITES”: It is not certain who the Rechabites were. They are taken to have been descended from Jethro the Midianite father-in-law of Moses and of non-Israelite origin who married Israelite women. Elsewhere they are considered part of Judah. We find their forefather having dwelt in the northern kingdom of Israel. Different sources say different things about them. None of the sources necessarily contradict each other but they do make it somewhat difficult to form a composite picture.
The Druze people in Israel revere Jethro and they may in part be descended from him.
The Druze probably came from Persia and migrated to Lebanon, Syria, and Israel before the Muslim conquest. They adopted a secret religion that believes in re-incarnation. Traditionally they believed themselves to be related to the French and British and according to one of their most revered religious leaders also to the Jews. The Druze in Israel serve in the Israeli Army. They make good, brave soldiers. On the whole they are patriotic Israelis. Their language is Arabic and their physical type of similar to that of the Christians in Lebanon who however were their traditional rivals.
[Jeremiah 35:4] AND I BROUGHT THEM INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, INTO THE CHAMBER OF THE SONS OF HANAN, THE SON OF IGDALIAH, A MAN OF GOD, WHICH WAS BY THE CHAMBER OF THE PRINCES, WHICH WAS ABOVE THE CHAMBER OF MAASEIAH THE SON OF SHALLUM, THE KEEPER OF THE DOOR:
[Jeremiah 35:5] AND I SET BEFORE THE SONS OF THE HOUSE OF THE RECHABITES POTS FULL OF WINE, AND CUPS, AND I SAID UNTO THEM, DRINK YE WINE.
[Jeremiah 35:6] BUT THEY SAID, WE WILL DRINK NO WINE: FOR JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB OUR FATHER COMMANDED US, SAYING, YE SHALL DRINK NO WINE, NEITHER YE, NOR YOUR SONS FOR EVER:
[Jeremiah 35:7] NEITHER SHALL YE BUILD HOUSE, NOR SOW SEED, NOR PLANT VINEYARD, NOR HAVE ANY: BUT ALL YOUR DAYS YE SHALL DWELL IN TENTS; THAT YE MAY LIVE MANY DAYS IN THE LAND WHERE YE BE STRANGERS.
[Jeremiah 35:8] THUS HAVE WE OBEYED THE VOICE OF JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB OUR FATHER IN ALL THAT HE HATH CHARGED US, TO DRINK NO WINE ALL OUR DAYS, WE, OUR WIVES, OUR SONS, NOR OUR DAUGHTERS;
[Jeremiah 35:9] NOR TO BUILD HOUSES FOR US TO DWELL IN: NEITHER HAVE WE VINEYARD, NOR FIELD, NOR SEED:
[Jeremiah 35:10] BUT WE HAVE DWELT IN TENTS, AND HAVE OBEYED, AND DONE ACCORDING TO ALL THAT JONADAB OUR FATHER COMMANDED US.
[Jeremiah 35:11] BUT IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN NEBUCHADREZZAR KING OF BABYLON CAME UP INTO THE LAND, THAT WE SAID, COME, AND LET US GO TO JERUSALEM FOR FEAR OF THE ARMY OF THE CHALDEANS, AND FOR FEAR OF THE ARMY OF THE SYRIANS: SO WE DWELL AT JERUSALEM.
“NEBUCHADREZZAR” here and in Jeremiah 34;1 and elsewhere Nebuchadnezzar is called “Nebuchadrezzar” with an “r” instead of an “n”. Buleh (Daat Mikra) says that “Nebuchadrezzar” is probably closer to how the Babylonians pronounced the name. In Hebrew (and in other tongues) the sounds expressed by l,m,n,r can sometimes interchange for euphonic reasons. Nebuchadnezzar is derived from “Nubu-chudar-atsar” i.e. may the god Nebo preserve the firstborn.
[Jeremiah 35:12] THEN CAME THE WORD OF THE LORD UNTO JEREMIAH, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 35:13] THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; GO AND TELL THE MEN OF JUDAH AND THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM, WILL YE NOT RECEIVE INSTRUCTION TO HEARKEN TO MY WORDS? SAITH THE LORD.
[Jeremiah 35:14] THE WORDS OF JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB, THAT HE COMMANDED HIS SONS NOT TO DRINK WINE, ARE PERFORMED; FOR UNTO THIS DAY THEY DRINK NONE, BUT OBEY THEIR FATHER'S COMMANDMENT: NOTWITHSTANDING I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU, RISING EARLY AND SPEAKING; BUT YE HEARKENED NOT UNTO ME.
“JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB” was the first “teetotaler”. Alcohol on the whole is permitted by the Bible and even encouraged though drunkenness is condemned and denigrated.
[Jeremiah 35:15] I HAVE SENT ALSO UNTO YOU ALL MY SERVANTS THE PROPHETS, RISING UP EARLY AND SENDING THEM, SAYING, RETURN YE NOW EVERY MAN FROM HIS EVIL WAY, AND AMEND YOUR DOINGS, AND GO NOT AFTER OTHER GODS TO SERVE THEM, AND YE SHALL DWELL IN THE LAND WHICH I HAVE GIVEN TO YOU AND TO YOUR FATHERS: BUT YE HAVE NOT INCLINED YOUR EAR, NOR HEARKENED UNTO ME.
[Jeremiah 35:16] BECAUSE THE SONS OF JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB HAVE PERFORMED THE COMMANDMENT OF THEIR FATHER, WHICH HE COMMANDED THEM; BUT THIS PEOPLE HATH NOT HEARKENED UNTO ME:
[Jeremiah 35:17] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; BEHOLD, I WILL BRING UPON JUDAH AND UPON ALL THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM ALL THE EVIL THAT I HAVE PRONOUNCED AGAINST THEM: BECAUSE I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO THEM, BUT THEY HAVE NOT HEARD; AND I HAVE CALLED UNTO THEM, BUT THEY HAVE NOT ANSWERED.
[Jeremiah 35:18] AND JEREMIAH SAID UNTO THE HOUSE OF THE RECHABITES, THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; BECAUSE YE HAVE OBEYED THE COMMANDMENT OF JONADAB YOUR FATHER, AND KEPT ALL HIS PRECEPTS, AND DONE ACCORDING UNTO ALL THAT HE HATH COMMANDED YOU:
[Jeremiah 35:19] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE GOD OF ISRAEL; JONADAB THE SON OF RECHAB SHALL NOT WANT A MAN TO STAND BEFORE ME FOR EVER.
The Rechabites will be rewarded.
A Midrash associates the Rechabites with the Land of Sinim and therefore with Australia?
[Jeremiah 36:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF JEHOIAKIM THE SON OF JOSIAH KING OF JUDAH, THAT THIS WORD CAME UNTO JEREMIAH FROM THE LORD, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 36:2] TAKE THEE A ROLL OF A BOOK, AND WRITE THEREIN ALL THE WORDS THAT I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO THEE AGAINST ISRAEL, AND AGAINST JUDAH, AND AGAINST ALL THE NATIONS, FROM THE DAY I SPAKE UNTO THEE, FROM THE DAYS OF JOSIAH, EVEN UNTO THIS DAY.
“AGAINST ISRAEL, AND AGAINST JUDAH”: Jeremiah prophesied about the Jews of Judah and about the future Lost Ten Tribes of Israel both separately and together. He also prophesied about other peoples. Like all the Prophets much of his Prophecy is really most pertinent to the End Times but structured around events occurring in his own days or close to them.
[Jeremiah 36:3] IT MAY BE THAT THE HOUSE OF JUDAH WILL HEAR ALL THE EVIL WHICH I PURPOSE TO DO UNTO THEM; THAT THEY MAY RETURN EVERY MAN FROM HIS EVIL WAY; THAT I MAY FORGIVE THEIR INIQUITY AND THEIR SIN.
Return from your bad ways and God will forgive you and will prevent or at least mitigate any bad fortune that was going to come upon you. Nobody is perfect. It is dependent upon us more than anything. Repentance is sweet and is possible. It means acknowledging and regretting past sin and not sinning again. Even if we are not sure that we can overcome temptation in the future we should make the attempt, if necessary, time and time again. King David was a greater man than anyone of us. He sinned and committed some of the worst offences possible. He repented and was forgiven and in the future will rule over us.
[Jeremiah 36:4] THEN JEREMIAH CALLED BARUCH THE SON OF NERIAH: AND BARUCH WROTE FROM THE MOUTH OF JEREMIAH ALL THE WORDS OF THE LORD, WHICH HE HAD SPOKEN UNTO HIM, UPON A ROLL OF A BOOK.
Books were written upon parchment made out of animal skin. I used to work as a scribe. I used a turkey feather for a quill though others use a kind of bamboo reed cut in a special way. We used ink made out of a fungus that grows on oak trees. The work was quite difficult and required a certain expertise. I was not really cut out for it but it was interesting and provided aesthetic satisfaction due to the high standard of calligraphy that was required.
[Jeremiah 36:5] AND JEREMIAH COMMANDED BARUCH, SAYING, I AM SHUT UP; I CANNOT GO INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD:
[Jeremiah 36:6] THEREFORE GO THOU, AND READ IN THE ROLL, WHICH THOU HAST WRITTEN FROM MY MOUTH, THE WORDS OF THE LORD IN THE EARS OF THE PEOPLE IN THE LORD'S HOUSE UPON THE FASTING DAY: AND ALSO THOU SHALT READ THEM IN THE EARS OF ALL JUDAH THAT COME OUT OF THEIR CITIES.
Refugees from the cities of Judah had congregated in Jerusalem due to the Babylonian Wars.
[Jeremiah 36:7] IT MAY BE THEY WILL PRESENT THEIR SUPPLICATION BEFORE THE LORD, AND WILL RETURN EVERY ONE FROM HIS EVIL WAY: FOR GREAT IS THE ANGER AND THE FURY THAT THE LORD HATH PRONOUNCED AGAINST THIS PEOPLE.
The Prophet implored the people to repent for their own sake.
[Jeremiah 36:8] AND BARUCH THE SON OF NERIAH DID ACCORDING TO ALL THAT JEREMIAH THE PROPHET COMMANDED HIM, READING IN THE BOOK THE WORDS OF THE LORD IN THE LORD'S HOUSE.
[Jeremiah 36:9] AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE FIFTH YEAR OF JEHOIAKIM THE SON OF JOSIAH KING OF JUDAH, IN THE NINTH MONTH, THAT THEY PROCLAIMED A FAST BEFORE THE LORD TO ALL THE PEOPLE IN JERUSALEM, AND TO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT CAME FROM THE CITIES OF JUDAH UNTO JERUSALEM.
Hoffman says that Ashkelon had just been captured and this is why they were fasting.
[Jeremiah 36:10] THEN READ BARUCH IN THE BOOK THE WORDS OF JEREMIAH IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, IN THE CHAMBER OF GEMARIAH THE SON OF SHAPHAN THE SCRIBE, IN THE HIGHER COURT, AT THE ENTRY OF THE NEW GATE OF THE LORD'S HOUSE, IN THE EARS OF ALL THE PEOPLE.
Baruch wrote what Jeremiah told him to write. He read it out in THE CHAMBER OF GEMARIAH THE SON OF SHAPHAN THE SCRIBE which was one of the chambers surrounding the Temple. He read out to the people and then to the princes, who then brought the matter to the king. Once again the scroll was read, this time to the king and to the princes. The King listened and then cast the scroll into the fire. Jeremiah ordered the scroll re-written and added to it.
[Jeremiah 36:11] WHEN MICHAIAH THE SON OF GEMARIAH, THE SON OF SHAPHAN, HAD HEARD OUT OF THE BOOK ALL THE WORDS OF THE LORD,
[Jeremiah 36:12] THEN HE WENT DOWN INTO THE KING'S HOUSE, INTO THE SCRIBE'S CHAMBER: AND, LO, ALL THE PRINCES SAT THERE, EVEN ELISHAMA THE SCRIBE, AND DELAIAH THE SON OF SHEMAIAH, AND ELNATHAN THE SON OF ACHBOR, AND GEMARIAH THE SON OF SHAPHAN, AND ZEDEKIAH THE SON OF HANANIAH, AND ALL THE PRINCES.
Some of these names have curious meanings.
“ACHBOR” means “mouse” or rodent.
“SHAPHAN” means “rabbit”.
[Jeremiah 36:13] THEN MICHAIAH DECLARED UNTO THEM ALL THE WORDS THAT HE HAD HEARD, WHEN BARUCH READ THE BOOK IN THE EARS OF THE PEOPLE.
[Jeremiah 36:14] THEREFORE ALL THE PRINCES SENT JEHUDI THE SON OF NETHANIAH, THE SON OF SHELEMIAH, THE SON OF CUSHI, UNTO BARUCH, SAYING, TAKE IN THINE HAND THE ROLL WHEREIN THOU HAST READ IN THE EARS OF THE PEOPLE, AND COME. SO BARUCH THE SON OF NERIAH TOOK THE ROLL IN HIS HAND, AND CAME UNTO THEM.
“THE SON OF CUSHI”: “Cushi” could be a nickname for a dark person or negro or the name could have other significance.
[Jeremiah 36:15] AND THEY SAID UNTO HIM, SIT DOWN NOW, AND READ IT IN OUR EARS. SO BARUCH READ IT IN THEIR EARS.
[Jeremiah 36:16] NOW IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THEY HAD HEARD ALL THE WORDS, THEY WERE AFRAID BOTH ONE AND OTHER, AND SAID UNTO BARUCH, WE WILL SURELY TELL THE KING OF ALL THESE WORDS.
[Jeremiah 36:17] AND THEY ASKED BARUCH, SAYING, TELL US NOW, HOW DIDST THOU WRITE ALL THESE WORDS AT HIS MOUTH?
[Jeremiah 36:18] THEN BARUCH ANSWERED THEM, HE PRONOUNCED ALL THESE WORDS UNTO ME WITH HIS MOUTH, AND I WROTE THEM WITH INK IN THE BOOK.
The word for “INK” in Hebrew is “diyo”. This is where the English word “dye” come from.
[Jeremiah 36:19] THEN SAID THE PRINCES UNTO BARUCH, GO, HIDE THEE, THOU AND JEREMIAH; AND LET NO MAN KNOW WHERE YE BE.
[Jeremiah 36:20] AND THEY WENT IN TO THE KING INTO THE COURT, BUT THEY LAID UP THE ROLL IN THE CHAMBER OF ELISHAMA THE SCRIBE, AND TOLD ALL THE WORDS IN THE EARS OF THE KING.
[Jeremiah 36:21] SO THE KING SENT JEHUDI TO FETCH THE ROLL: AND HE TOOK IT OUT OF ELISHAMA THE SCRIBE'S CHAMBER. AND JEHUDI READ IT IN THE EARS OF THE KING, AND IN THE EARS OF ALL THE PRINCES WHICH STOOD BESIDE THE KING.
[Jeremiah 36:22] NOW THE KING SAT IN THE WINTERHOUSE IN THE NINTH MONTH: AND THERE WAS A FIRE ON THE HEARTH BURNING BEFORE HIM.
[Jeremiah 36:23] AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT WHEN JEHUDI HAD READ THREE OR FOUR LEAVES, HE CUT IT WITH THE PENKNIFE, AND CAST IT INTO THE FIRE THAT WAS ON THE HEARTH, UNTIL ALL THE ROLL WAS CONSUMED IN THE FIRE THAT WAS ON THE HEARTH.
“PENKNIFE”: in Hebrew “taar” meaning any kind of razor or cutting device. This is probably the source of the English word “tear”.
[Jeremiah 36:24] YET THEY WERE NOT AFRAID, NOR RENT THEIR GARMENTS, NEITHER THE KING, NOR ANY OF HIS SERVANTS THAT HEARD ALL THESE WORDS.
[Jeremiah 36:25] NEVERTHELESS ELNATHAN AND DELAIAH AND GEMARIAH HAD MADE INTERCESSION TO THE KING THAT HE WOULD NOT BURN THE ROLL: BUT HE WOULD NOT HEAR THEM.
[Jeremiah 36:26] BUT THE KING COMMANDED JERAHMEEL THE SON OF HAMMELECH, AND SERAIAH THE SON OF AZRIEL, AND SHELEMIAH THE SON OF ABDEEL, TO TAKE BARUCH THE SCRIBE AND JEREMIAH THE PROPHET: BUT THE LORD HID THEM.
“JERAHMEEL THE SON OF HAMMELECH”: in Hebrew “Yerachmiel Ben-HaMelech”: A seal has been found in Jerusalem dating from this period with this name on it.
[Jeremiah 36:27] THEN THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JEREMIAH, AFTER THAT THE KING HAD BURNED THE ROLL, AND THE WORDS WHICH BARUCH WROTE AT THE MOUTH OF JEREMIAH, SAYING,
[Jeremiah 36:28] TAKE THEE AGAIN ANOTHER ROLL, AND WRITE IN IT ALL THE FORMER WORDS THAT WERE IN THE FIRST ROLL, WHICH JEHOIAKIM THE KING OF JUDAH HATH BURNED.
[Jeremiah 36:29] AND THOU SHALT SAY TO JEHOIAKIM KING OF JUDAH, THUS SAITH THE LORD; THOU HAST BURNED THIS ROLL, SAYING, WHY HAST THOU WRITTEN THEREIN, SAYING, THE KING OF BABYLON SHALL CERTAINLY COME AND DESTROY THIS LAND, AND SHALL CAUSE TO CEASE FROM THENCE MAN AND BEAST?
[Jeremiah 36:30] THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD OF JEHOIAKIM KING OF JUDAH; HE SHALL HAVE NONE TO SIT UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID: AND HIS DEAD BODY SHALL BE CAST OUT IN THE DAY TO THE HEAT, AND IN THE NIGHT TO THE FROST.
[Jeremiah 36:31] AND I WILL PUNISH HIM AND HIS SEED AND HIS SERVANTS FOR THEIR INIQUITY; AND I WILL BRING UPON THEM, AND UPON THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM, AND UPON THE MEN OF JUDAH, ALL THE EVIL THAT I HAVE PRONOUNCED AGAINST THEM; BUT THEY HEARKENED NOT.
[Jeremiah 36:32] THEN TOOK JEREMIAH ANOTHER ROLL, AND GAVE IT TO BARUCH THE SCRIBE, THE SON OF NERIAH; WHO WROTE THEREIN FROM THE MOUTH OF JEREMIAH ALL THE WORDS OF THE BOOK WHICH JEHOIAKIM KING OF JUDAH HAD BURNED IN THE FIRE: AND THERE WERE ADDED BESIDES UNTO THEM MANY LIKE WORDS.
The Book of Jeremiah at present in our possession was made up of a series of such scrolls assembled together according to their subject matter and not in a chronological order.
|Jeremiah chs. 29 to 32|