6:19 Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. 16:20 Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” 16:21“Therefore I will teach them— this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”
19:7 ”In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals. 19:8 I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. 19:9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.”
That’s right, bitches. God is going to make you eat your children. And then after you eat your kids, you’re gonna have to eat your friends. Because you’re a disloyal a-hole. All you had to do was remain faithful to God, but oooohhhh no. Oh no Mr. Man. You just couldn’t do it. You had to start worshiping all those other gods out there. All those FALSE idols. And now the time has come to pay the piper, buddy boy.
Oh my god it feels so good to finally be writing this. Should I not take The Lord’s name in vain on a Bible blog? Hmm.
Remember how much I hated the book of Isaiah? I believe I described it as being pointless, offering almost zero new information, and being extremely difficult to get through. Well, Take Isaiah and then strip out all the charm and excitement, and you’ve got Jeremiah. You see, at the very least, Isaiah had some slightly intriguing Jesus-esque prophecies and crazy mythological creatures to spice it up every now and then. Jeremiah, not so much. Jeremiah tells basically the exact same story, but without those fun unicorns and cockatrices and weird Jesus-y prophecies.
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah lived and prophesied (on the same general topic) during the time of 2nd Kings. Isaiah came first – he lived during the 8th century BC, which was during the reigns of (kings of Judah) Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. You can see those guys here on the right hand side. Jeremiah came along a bit later and prophesied during the reigns of Josiah through to Zedekiah, and then eventually up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the exile of the people of Judah (627 through 582 BC according to Wikipedia). You can see those kings below the other dudes on the right hand side of this table/timeline as well.
Jeremiah as a book is less structured than Isaiah, but the gist is – very similar to Isaiah – that it’s mostly a bunch of prophecies about God punishing the people of Judah for disobeying him and worshiping false idols … with their punishment, of course, being that they are destroyed and taken over by the Babylonians (led by King Nebuchadnezzar) and forced into exile. The book of Jeremiah also does give a tad bit more personal details and story to Jeremiah himself – we hear about how God appointed him as a prophet to begin with, how he was persecuted by various people and beaten and imprisoned by priests and officials at a few points, and how he was then eventually released from imprisonment when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian army. So, he’s got some level of narrative going here that’s more interesting than Isaiah’s “story” (or lack thereof). At least Jeremiah has a few twists and turns and hijinks along the way.
But that’s pretty much as far as the excitement and intrigue goes in this book. The rest of it is a bunch of prophecies that sound a hell of a lot like the heartwarming little teaser I gave at the start of this post. So I’m gonna try to keep this review as concise as possible and jump right to the Good and Bad Stuff.
Uummmmmmmm ………… Let’s seeee here … o.k. In the 52 chapters of Jeremiah, there are exactly 4 good things in here:
- In chapter 7, God says, “5. If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6. if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you [blah blah don’t worship other gods], 7. then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.”
- Let’s see ummm oh I kinda like this one: 17:11 “Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.”
- Chapter 22: “3. This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” And then later, “13. ‘Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.'” Oh one last one: “16. ‘[King Josiah] defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.” Hmm. Republicans, what do you think?
- Chapter 34: “12. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13. ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14. ‘Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.’” (In a shocking twist, the people disobeyed this one.)
That sums up all the good stuff in Jeremiah. 52 chapters and lord only knows how many verses, and that’s all we get.
Just basically consider everything that is not in the “Good Stuff” section as falling into the “Bad Stuff” section. Pretty much all the rest of Jeremiah is somewhere between questionable and downright horrific. Remember that the whole purpose of this book is for Jeremiah to tell the people of Judah why God is destroying them and their nation and throwing them into exile. This is not a happy story. Other than the verses quoted at the start of this post, here are just a few more examples:
- Chapter 13, God talking to Jeremiah: “12. ‘Say to them: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Every wineskin should be filled with wine.” And if they say to you, “Don’t we know that every wineskin should be filled with wine?” 13. then tell them, “This is what the Lord says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. 14. I will smash them one against the other, parents and children alike, declares the Lord. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.”‘”
- Chapter 14: “11. Then the Lord said to me (Jeremiah), ‘Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.'” Don’t try to talk me out of it dude, these losers are toast, and I’m kinda just excited now to start the mayhem.
- Chapter 25: (God to the Jews): “11. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12. But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt.” In typical God fashion, he will fuck everything up, specifically so that HE can be the hero who cleans it all up later. “I’m gonna make these people do terrible crap to you guys, but don’t worry, I’ll punish ’em later for it. I know, I know, don’t call me a hero!! For I am just a god. Err!! THE God. And don’t you forget it, or I’ll fuck your shit up all over again.”
- When the Jews eventually decide to escape Babylon and flee to Egypt, God gets super pissed again, and threatens to kill everyone.
- Towards the end of Jeremiah, God eventually starts detailing out how he’s going to destroy Babylon. Shocker: It’s very similar to how he destroyed Jerusalem.
- In chapter 34, God assures King Zedekiah of the following: “‘4. You will not die by the sword; 5. you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your predecessors, the kings who ruled before you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, “Alas, master!” I myself make this promise,’ declares the Lord.” But then in chapter 52, Riblah the king of Babylon kills Zedekiah’s sons in front of him, gouges out Zedekiah’s eyeballs, and then imprisons him until the day of his death. Thanks, God.
- Another example of a bad prophecy: In chapter 51, God claims that after he destroys Babylon, it will remain desolate and uninhabited forever. But in reality, Babylon has been continuously inhabited since then.
And never you worry, reader, Jeremiah also contains juuust as much misogyny as all the other Bible books. Just check out chapter 3 for a good helping of it. The people of Judah/Jerusalem are repeatedly compared to unfaithful wives here. e.g. 3:1 “‘If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers— would you now return to me?’ declares the Lord.” And the funny thing is, this all just further helps to paint a picture of God as a jealous and abusive husband. A real charmer, that one.
So there’s Jeremiah for you. Another fun read. I gave Isaiah a rating of 0.7/10, and I liked Jeremiah even less than Isaiah. So …
Just … no. No, this book is not good on any level. But hey guess what, good news awaits!! After suffering through 66 chapters of Isaiah and then 52 chapters of Jeremiah, next up is Lamentations, which is FIVE CHAPTERS!! FIVE!! NOT 50!! 5!! Aaaahhhh I can’t wait.