Jeremiah says idolatry will bring Judah's fall

Jer 1:1-19   Jeremiah prophesies from 620BC to 587BC during the reigns of Josiah (642-610BC), Jehoiakim (610-598BC) and Zedekiah (597-587BC), kings of Judah (see 2 Kings 22-25).


The historical context of Jeremiah's prophesies

Following the defeat of the Assyrians at the hands of the Babylonians in 612BC, Ashuruballit III, the last King of Assyria, called on Egypt to support him against the rising superpower Babylon. Pharaoh Neco (Necho II), the recently crowned King of Egypt, led his army along the Way of the Sea to assist the King of Assyria in a final showdown against the Babylonians (see 6 on Map 60). King Josiah of Judah (642-610BC) foolishly tried to bar the Egyptian king’s way at Megiddo (see Map 60) and was killed at the Battle of Megiddo in 610BC


Tel Megido (אסף.צ.)

Tel Megiddo - the site of the Battle of Megiddo in 610BC  (אסף.צ.)


The delay resulted in Assyria being soundly defeated by the Babylonians at the Battle of Carchemish (see 7 on Map 60). Pharaoh Neco returned to Egypt, deposing Josiah's son Jehoahaz en route, and installing his brother Jehoiakim (610-598BC) in his place, to act as a buffer against Babylon.

In 605BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah and King Jehoiakim was forced to become a vassal king (see 8 on Map 60). After three years (in 602BC), Pharoah Neco of Egypt re-took Gaza from the Babylonians (see Jeremiah 47:1), and Jehoiakim rebelled against his overlord, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In December 599BC, Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite forces were deployed against Judah. King Jehoiakim of Judah was killed and was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin in 598BC.

Later in 598BC, Nebuchadnezzar beseiged Jerusalem. King Jehoiachin surrendered in March 597BC and ten thousand Judaeans (including the prophet Ezekiel) were taken captive to Babylonia (see 9 on Map 60). Nebuchadnezzar stripped the Temple of all the gold articles made by King Solomon. Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon and Zedekiah was installed in his place as a puppet king for eleven years (597-587BC).


Babylon ancient ruins (Arlo K. Abrahamson)

The ruins of ancient Babylon   (Arlo K. Abrahamson)


Jer 2:1-13   Early on in Jeremiah's prophetic career, the LORD states his case against the people of Judah:

“Go across the sea to the island of Cyprus and see. Send someone to the land of Kedar (Arabia) to look closely. See if there has ever been anything like this. Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Of course, its gods are not really gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for idols worth nothing.” (Jeremiah 2:10-11)

Jer 2:14-30   Jeremiah warns that Judah is trapped between two warring superpowers, and cannot trust either of them for security:

"Enemies have roared like lions at Israel... They have destroyed the land of Israel... The men from the cities of Memphis and Tahpanhes have disgraced you by shaving the top off your head." (Jeremiah 2:15-16) 

“It did not help to go to Egypt and drink from the Shihor River. It did not help to go to Assyria and drink from the Euphrates River.” (Jeremiah 2:18)  


River Euphrates at Zalabiyeh, nr Halabiyeh, Syria ( Bertramz )

River Euphrates at Zalabiyeh, nr Halabiyeh, Syria  ( Bertramz )


Jer 2:31-37   The LORD says his bride, Israel, has chased other husbands, but has been betrayed by them: “Even Egypt will let you down, as Assyria let you down.” (Jeremiah 2:36)

Jer 3:1-20   Judah and Israel are compared to unfaithful brides: 

“Did you see what  unfaithful Israel did? She was like a prostitute with her idols on every hill and under every green tree” (worshipping Baal and Asherah – see Hosea 4:11-13). (Jeremiah 3:6)

“Judah saw that I divorced unfaithful Israel because of her adultery, but that didn't make Israel's wicked sister Judah afraid. She also went out and acted like a prostitute” (by erecting stone idols of Baal and Asherah poles – see Hosea 4:11-13). (Jeremiah 3:8)

Jer 3:21-25   The LORD promises to forgive his unfaithful children: 

“It was foolish to worship idols on the hills and on the mountains. Surely the salvation of Israel comes from the LORD our God. Since our youth, shameful gods have eaten up in sacrifice everything our ancesters worked for - their flocks and herds, their sons and daughters. Let us lie down in our shame, and let our dissgrace cover us like a blanket.” (Jeremiah 3:23-25)         

Jer 4:1-31   But disaster is near: “Run for your lives and don't wait, because I am bringing disaster from the north. There will be terrible destruction. A lion has come out of his den; a destroyer of nations has begun to march." (Jeremiah 4:6-7)

Jer 5:1-31   Judah will reap it's due rewards: "I gave your children everything they needed, but they were still like an unfaithful wife to me... They are like well-fed horses filled with sexual desire; each one wants another man's wife." (Jeremiah 5:7-8)

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