Monday, February 17, 2014

Jeremiah 23:1-25:38


Jeremiah 23 begins with an oracle against the kings of Judah (vv. 1-8). Using an analogy familiar to ancient near eastern cultures, Jeremiah refers to the kings of Judah as "shepherds." Bad shepherds. YHWH will deal with them. Jeremiah looks forward to a good king from David's line. In Christian liturgical use this passage is applied to Jesus. Verse 6 gives that king's name as "YHWH is Our Righteousness" a pun on the name of (bad) king Zedekiah. The NIV's translation "The Lord Our Righteous Savior" seems a bit interpretive to me.

The remainder of chapter 23 (vv. 9-40) consists of oracles against the prophets of Judah. They are false. The priests are no better (v. 11). The are guilty of adultery, that is, idolatry. They lie and tell the people everything is okay but bad times are coming. God can see what they're up to (v. 23).

In chapter 24 Jeremiah describes a vision of two baskets of figs: one yummy good, the other inedibly bad. Like the potter's wheel (chapter 18) this is a simple metaphor. The good figs are a good portent; YHWH will bring the exiles home. The bad figs are bad news for Zedekiah and the officials of Jerusalem.

In chapter 25 Jeremiah announces that the Babylonian exile will last 70 years. It didn't. It was actually closer to 50 years. But if you are the kind of person who wants to maintain the Bible's inerrancy (Why would you want to do that?) you could explain this as a symbolic number. The number 7 represents completeness, times 10 is a multiplier. The exile will last a long but finite time. It will be done when Judah's penance is complete. Then Babylon will be punished.

Verses 15-38 describes Jeremiah pouring out the cup of YHWH's wrath on pretty much every nation. YHWH is a pretty angry God.

Next: Jeremiah 26-29

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