A little more than a year after God first visited me, and just a few months after my ordeal with the brick was over, God came again. I was sitting in my house, being consulted by some elders when all of a sudden, God appeared in all Its molten chrome glory! It extended Its fingers, grabbed me by the hair and pulled me into the cherubim vehicle! Then we flew to the Temple in Jerusalem, where I saw a bunch of priests worshiping one of the idols that filled God with a jealous rage.
I glanced at God, and It was all, That’s not even the worst of it! Dig in that hole over there!
So I dug and found a door that lead to a room filled with idols and bugs and maggots and snakes and pigs and shrimp and every unclean thing–and 70 elders worshiping them! Then God took me to another part of the Temple where a crowd of women were mourning Tammuz, the Babylonian greenman of rebirth and renewal! Finally, It showed me 25 more men worshiping the sun.
Then God said, Human, do you see?! How insulting that the Jews cheat on me in my own house! They all deserve death!
To review, Zedekiah became king when he was 21 years old and ruled for 11 years. He decided to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar in the ninth year of his reign. Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem for the next two years. By the end, people were starving. when the walls were finally breached, Zedekiah and his army tried to feel, but they were captured near Jericho.
Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah watch as all his sons and officials were put to death, then he ordered his eyes put out and to be chained in with the other prisoners to be force marched to Babylon. There Zedekiah rotted in prison for his remaining years. Continue reading “Jeremiah 52: Recap”
Jeremiah told Ebed-melech that because of his good deed, he would be spared and freed at the fall of Jerusalem.
Not long after, the Babylonians breached the city walls and Jerusalem was overran. The king and his court tried to flee, but were captured. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah watch as all of his sons and most of his nobles were executed. Then he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and force marched with the remaining Judeans to Babylon. The palace and the Temple were burned. Nebuchadnezzar told his general he left on clean up to treat Jeremiah well. As we’ll find out in the next chapter, that meant Jeremiah got to stay in Jerusalem, at least for a little while
God told Jeremiah to write his book during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign. So Jeremiah hired Baruch to be his scribe and when to work. When it was done, he told Baruch, Since I’ve been banned from the Temple, I’ll need you to go there and read the book on the next time a fast day is declared. And after you read it in the Temple, go out in the streets and read it to the crowds. Maybe after hearing it, people will turn from their evil ways and the impending disaster will be averted.
The next winter, Jehoiakim declared a fast day, so Baruch dutifully went and read the book. One of the places he read the book at was at gathering held at Gemariah’s house. Gemariah was the son of one of Jehoikaim’s secretary. Afterwards, Micaiah, Gemariah’s son, went and told his grandpa and the other officials about Baruch and the book. They ordered Baruch come before them and read the book. When they heard its contents, they were pretty freaked out and were all, Did you write this? We have to tell the king! Is this dictated by Jeremiah? Continue reading “Jeremiah 36: Book burning”
During Jehoiakim’s war with Nebuchadnezzar, God decided to test this clan of people, the Rechabites, who, like many rural folk, had sough refuge in Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah to invite the clan to the Temple and to offer them wine as a refreshment. Jeremiah did, but the Rechabites were all, No thank you. We don’t drink. We vowed to our father and grandfather that we, nor any of our women or slaves would ever drink or would live in houses. Our clan has a strict no booze, tent only policy. We’re only here in Jerusalem because of this blasted war. We’d rather be out camping in our tents, and as soon as it’s safe, that’s where we’ll be.
Jeremiah said, God is pleased with your answer and promises that there will always be a Rechabite to stand before It. Your clan is a lesson for all other Jews who have broken all the vows their ancestors made to God. For this they will be destroyed!
When Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah king in his nephew’s place, God told Jeremiah to put a yoke around his neck and to go stand in front of the palace and give all the emissaries of foreign nations coming to congratulate Zedekiah this message:
God made the earth. God made you. God made Nebuchadnezzar and has decided to give the earth, its animals, and you unto the Babylonian king! So tell your king to accept the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar and serve him or be punished with sword, famine, and exile! However, if you do serve him, your people will get to remain in their lands.
So Jeremiah waylaid the emissaries from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon, and eventually told this to Zedekiah himself.
Then Jeremiah told the priests and people that any prophet who prophesied victory of Babylon and a return of the Temple goods that Nebuchadnezzar had taken was a lying liar who shouldn’t be listed to.
Around that time, on another occasion when Jeremiah was at the Temple telling everyone they were doomed, doomed! the priests and other folk had had enough. They seized on Jeremiah to put him to death for saying bad things about the city. So officials were called, to make it all above-board-like, and Jeremiah was all, Y’all can kill me all you want, it doesn’t change anything. God still told me to tell you that It was pissed and going to kill you all! So the officials, especially this one cat named Ahikan, were all, Dude says he’s from God. It’d be a sin to kill him just because we don’t like God’s message. So the mob dispersed. Some were ok with decision, citing when Hezekiah didn’t kill Micah for his ill-omens. Others were pissy because King Jehoiakim had started a new trend, killing annoying negative prophets, like that other dude, Urich.
Then Jeremiah went to the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem and accosted all the men coming in and out, saying to them, Reform! Repent! Praying in the Temple will not save you! Do you think God listens to sinners like you? To reprobates that oppress foreigners and women? Those who worship other gods? Shabbat believers like you, who burn incense to Baal on Tuesdays are as condemned as murderers! Those of you who offer cakes to Ashtoreth for fertility and childbirth rituals are no better than adulterers! You all might as well go into mourning now, because God rejects you all. God especially abhors those of you who go into the Valley of Ben Hinnon and sacrifice your children, your sons and daughters!, to Tophet! You will die wretched deaths and your carcasses will be left to rot in the streets!
Now I returned to the king in Susa when all was finished.
A few years later, I sought permission to return to Jerusalem to see how all carried on. When I got there, I was appalled! Always Tobiah’s creature, the high priest Eliashib allowed that evil wretch to live inside the Temple! Moreover, the Levites were not receiving their tithes and no one kept the Sabbath! The gates were always open from dawn til dusk and traders plied a brisk trade as the errant children of Abraham bought and sold!
I quickly worked to set all to right, evicted Tobiah, restored the Temple furnishings, appointed new treasurers over the storehouses, and commanded that all commerce and work on the Sabbath cease thenceforth.
Then I went among the people and saw mongrel half-breed “Jews” who couldn’t even speak Hebrew. Horror washed over me. I beat the godless urchins! Then I, again, forbade the practice of miscegenation. I ordered Ezra to make sure that all heathen whores and their unholy brats were promptly divorced, disowned, and cast out.
Remember me, oh God, for all the good I have wrought in your name!
And so ends the book of Nehemiah, the account of a minor Persian functionary whose petty, self-aggrandizing memoir somehow has been elevated to the word of a supernatural being that supposedly created the universe. Next time, Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia.
It also behooved me to conduct a census of the returned exiles to ascertain lineages and to make sure no unclean or mongrel upstarts ate of the sacrificial repasts. Many were found to be unworthy. I also noted the donations many had made to the Temple and city wall funds. I myself had donated 15 pounds of gold, 625 pounds of silver, as well as basins and vestments for the Temple priests. The nobles donated over 300 pounds of gold and over a ton of silver, while the commoners donated over 300 pounds of gold and over a ton of silver and many Temple vestments.
When the walls were completed and the gates hung, I appointed all of the gate keepers, singers, and other factotums. I appointed my brother to be in charge of the gate and defense when I would leave to return to serve my king in Susa. I proclaimed that the gates should never be open before morning and always shut before dusk and that they were never ever to be opened on the Sabbath.