Well here’s a twist I didn’t expect – god doesn’t want the remaining Jews to leave Jerusalem and head to Egypt! Moreover, in some translations, he apologizes to them for what they have been through! (v 7-12) But that interpretation is debatable. In the Hebrew-English version, and the KJV, he says that if they stay in Judah, and obey him, that “I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you”. But in the NLT and the NRSV, he says “I am sorry for the punishment/disaster….”. Quite different, no? Are these versions trying to sound kinder? Either way, I bet you can guess what will happen if the Jews disobey and decide to go ahead with their planned trip. The gory details are in the rest of the chapter. Spoiler – the last verse gives us the familiar phrase “ye shall die by the sword”.
Johanan and his little band of followers don’t believe what Jeremiah tells them of god’s instructions – they are afraid that if they remain in Jerusalem they will fall victim to the Babylonians. (It seems everyone thinks that Jeremiah is a traitor who has sold out to Babylon.) So Johanan rounds up all the people who remain in Judah, including Jeremiah, and hauls them off to Egypt. And god gets angry (what a surprise!) He tells Jeremiah that he will bring his “servant” Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt to capture, plunder, kill – you know the drill. Hell hath no fury like Yahweh when he’s scorned…
Yahweh is on a rant about people who burn incense and worship other gods. He will kill every last one of them! He hasn’t carried on this badly for a while. (v 1-14) But the women continue to defiantly worship the Queen of Heaven. That title makes her sound a lot like the Virgin Mary, but apparently not; in ancient times this title was given to numerous sky goddesses, including Isis, Hera, and possibly Asherah. Jeremiah warns the people again, and Yahweh continues to rant. In v 28 he says “Only a small number will escape death and return to Judah from Egypt”; compare to v 14 “Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors.” Well, which is it?
Jeremiah is sick and tired, and overwhelmed. Well, so am I – from reading this crap!