Friday, May 6, 2016

121. The Cycle is Complete

The Southern Kingdom is Smitten

A voice was heard in Ramah; wailing and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her sons; she refuses to be comforted for her sons, because they are not. Jeremiah 31:15.  Jacob was the father of the people of Israel; Rachel was Jacob's first love, his favourite wife.  Rachel was also the mother of Benjamin, and Benjamin was the forefather of one of the two tribes of Southern Israel.  Therefore it is proper to say that it was Rachel, the mother of the Jewish people who wept because her children had been murdered by the Babylonians.

After Christ was born, King Herod murdered all the baby boys in Israel because he was afraid that the "baby, born to be king" would usurp his throne.  It was about that situation that Matthew quotes these words, A voice was heard in Ramah, (Ramah is a town close to Bethlehem, where Christ was born), wailing and weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Mat. 2:18.

Jeremiah In Prison

Jeremiah was falsely accused of trying to escape to the Chaldeans, as he had suggested the Israelites should do.  Because of that accusation, he was imprisoned.  When Jeremiah had entered into the house of the pit, and into the cells, (maximum security) then Jeremiah remained there many days. 37:16.  The king rescued him and sent him to the court of the prison, which was a much better prison.

Some leaders just could not be content with that situation, so they talked to the king again, saying that Jeremiah was discouraging the people from fighting the Babylonians and therefore should be put to death.  The king replied, Behold, he is in your hand. For the king cannot do a thing against you. And they took Jeremiah and ... they let Jeremiah down with ropes; the prison cell had no ladder or stairs, hence, no way of escape.  And there was no water in the pit, only mud. So Jeremiah sank into the mud. 38:6.   So Jeremiah sunk in the mire; up to the neck, as Josephus says. Gill.  However, the Bible does not say that.

After that, an Ethiopian servant got the king's permission to rescue Jeremiah from certain starvation in "that mud hole".  From then on Jeremiah was kept in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was captured. 38:28.

In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah ... Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, came against Jerusalem. And they besieged it ... the city was broken up. 39:1-2.   So Nebuzaradan, the chief of the executioners (of the Babylonian army), sent, and ... took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison ... So he (Jeremiah) lived among the people. 39:13-14 

And the chief of the executioners took Jeremiah and said to him ... now, behold, I set you free today from the chains on your hand. ... Wherever it seems good and pleasing for you to go, go there. 40:2-4.  Jeremiah decided not to leave but to live with his own people.

After Babylon had destroyed Judah, the first time, some Jews returned from the countries to which they had fled for safety.   Later, when the Babylonian army returned to Judah, many of those Jews, who had returned, decided to flee to Egypt for safety.  Israel and Egypt were friends at that time.  

Jeremiah warned them against making that move.  O remnant of Judah. So says Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel: If you surely set your faces to go into Egypt, and go to live there... you ... shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the plague. 42:15+22.   

Yet the small number that escapes the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah. 44:28

But Johanan (the leader of the fleeing Jews) and all the commanders of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah who had returned from all the nations (where they had been driven) to dwell in the land of Judah; men, and women, and children, and ... Jeremiah the prophet. ... So they came into the land of Egypt. 43:5-7.

A Look-Back

Back in 1446 BCE, with great fanfare and a mighty hand, the Israelites left Egypt.   Moses, a mighty man of God, whose name is still known throughout the world, was the leader of about 6,000,000 (by some estimates).  Mighty signs and miracles accompanied them on their way.  
  • They invaded Canaan; 
  • captured walled cities; 
  • fought giants; 
  • ate well and 
  • turned their backs on Jehovah.  
Now circa 590 BCE, a small group of exiles, in opposition to Jehovah's distinct instructions, was trudging along led by Johanan, a man, virtually unheard of.  They were returning to Egypt, and according to Jeremiah, most of them would be killed there in battle.

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