Introduction to Sefer Yirmiyah
Compared to Sefer Yeshaya, Yirmiyah is considerably smaller and considerably grimmer. The Talmud Yerushalmi notes that of all the books of prophecy, Yirmiyah is the only one which does not end off on a positive note. Who was Yirmiyah and what is this sefer?
Yirmiyah the Prophet
Yirmiyah was the son of Chilkyah the prophet, who was a descendant of Rachav. Yirmiyah was born on Tisha B’Av, and was named Yirmiyah because in his days ‘Hashem’s strict judgment increased’ (nitromemah middas ha’din). Moreover, the Zohar connects the name Yirmiyah with the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Yirmiyah lived during the period of the first Beis Hamikdash through its destruction. He lived for 91 years and prophesied from the days of King Yoshiyahu until the destruction of the Mikdash and the first year of the reign of Koresh. He was a student of Tzefaniah the prophet and Baruch ben Neriah was his student. Yirmiyah’s contemporaries were Chuldah the prophetess (who was actually a relative of his) and Tzefaniah. Chazal tell us that Chuldah used to prophesy for the women, Tzefaniah in the Beis Midrash, and Yirmiyah in the marketplaces. The Redak (Yechezkal 1:3) cites the Talmud Yerushalmi which notes that Yirmiyah’s son was Yechezkal, and his grandson was Ben Sira.
Another interesting piece of Chazal about Yirmiyah reveals that Yirmiyah used to be pals with Nebuchadnezzar before the latter became the evil all-conquering king. In fact, Yirmiyah (prophetically seeing that Nebuchadnezzar was destined to conquer Jerusalem) made a deal whereby he’d be given half a day to save anything he wanted from Jerusalem should Nebuchadnezzar conquer the city. This happened and Nebuchadnezzar kept his word. After the destruction of the Mikdash Yirmiyah refused the orders of Nevuzradan (the Babylonian chief officer) to join his people in Bavel. Instead, Yirmiyah opted to remain in Jerusalem with the small number of Jews who remained there. After the assassination of Gedaliah the remaining Jews in Jerusalem ignored Yirmiyah’s advice and made their way down to Egypt. Yirmyah followed them there and rebuked them – with the tragic result being that they murdered Yirmiyah. It was the Egyptians (who had much respect for Yirmiyah) who buried Yirmiyah. He was eventually reburied by King Alexandra in Alexandria.
Yirmiyah seemed to have a rather difficult life. He was chased out of his hometown due to his harsh prophesies, and despite his soft tone he did not prove much more popular in Jerusalem. He was plagued by false prophets who constantly contradicted his prophetic messages. Indeed, he was twice put in very harsh prison cells after false rumours were circulated by his enemies that he was collaborating with the Kasdim to overthrow Jerusalem. Yet he was a man of giant spiritual stature and commitment to truth: he continued following Hashem’s word and publicising His messages to the people despite great personal risk. As a show of his great spiritual stature, Jerusalem was only conquered once Yirmiyah left the city. In his introduction to Yirmiyah the Abarbanel proves Yirmiyah’s shleimus and writes that Yirmiyah got close to attaining the prophetic level of Moshe Rabeinu. For a brief foray into the clarity of a prophet as well as a fascinating (and respectful) critique of the Abrabanel’s appraisals of Yirmiyah regarding his eloquence, see the Malbim’s introduction to Yirmiyah.
Yirmiyah the Sefer
The gemarra tells us that Yirmiyah wrote his own sefer – as well as Eichah and Melachim. In fact, the title ‘Eichah’ is an acronym for ani yirmiyah kohen ha’anatot (I, Yirmiyah the Kohen from Anotot – his hometown). Sefer Yirmiyah is famous for its prophecies about the destruction of the (first) Beis Hamikdash, and Eichah for the lamentations after its destruction. The Abrabanel splits up Sefer Yirmiyah’s 52 chapters into 17 prophecies. The Malbim writes that the reason several of the prophecies of Yirmiyah seem thematically repetitive is to emphasise the fact that these prophecies were destined to be actualised soon (as was the case).
Perek 1: Yirmiya received prophecies from Hashem during the reigns of Yoshiyoh, his son Yehoyokim and his grandson Tzidkiyoh. On Hashem’s first prophecy to Yirmiya, Hashem informed him that from the beginning of creation, Yirmiya was selected to be a Novi to guide the Jewish people who behave like the “nations”. Yirmiya protested; he argued that he is unworthy of such a task. Hashem urged Yirmiya to leave his hometown of Anosos and go to Yerusholayim and to speak whatever He commands. Hashem promises that the Jewish people will not kill him (despite attempts to kill him see later on), although they may smite and abuse him (Radak). Yirmiya saw a vision of an almond tree branch, Hashem explained that just as an almond is the first tree to blossom (Rashi), He will fulfil his prophecies diligently. Yirmiya’s second vision was a “bubbling pot” which overflowed towards the north (Rashi); this represented Bovel coming from the north to destroy Yehuda. The Babylonian attack against the Jewish people was Hashem’s way of displaying his displeasure with the Jewish people (Radak and Malbim). Hashem will protect Yirmiya from being murdered by the Jewish people on condition he is not scared not to relay some of the more unpopular prophecies.
Perek 2:Yirmiya spoke to the inhabitants of Yerusholayim that though He may punish the Jewish people, Hashem recalls the “loving kindness” of the giving of the Torah and will have mercy. Just as it is forbidden to eat the first of the crops, the Jewish people are Hashem’s first crops and they should not be touched by the nations. Hashem questions why the Jewish people have abandoned Him. Yet, they contaminated this land and even the Torah scholars (Rashi says this is referring to the Sanhedrin) “did not know Him”, they understood the importance of learning Torah, but did not act upon their learning and were corrupt. The Kohanim should have rebuked the people reminding them of Hashem’s existence, but did not (Metzudas Dovid). Therefore, Hashem will punish the entire Jewish people replacing Him with an ‘unequal substitute’, thus performed a “double evil” (Rashi). They will be punished for not fearing Hashem and breaking the deal where Hashem protected them from their enemies in return for them observing the Torah. The Jews claim innocence, but in every valley they serve idols like an unfaithful man to his wife. Yet, the nation request help in difficult times and criticise Him when they are not helped due to the sins of the “entire people” and their “killing of prophets”. They have forgotten the giving of the Torah and the journeying through the desert and target the most vulnerable whilst feigning innocence.
Perek 3: Although like a couple that get divorced and the wife remarries, according to Halacha the original pair cannot get remarried, Hashem is willing to ‘remarry’ the Jewish people despite their marriage to other gods. They have served many gods and their rain abated. Hashem offers them to reaccept him as their G-d and he will not “bear a grudge forever” if they admit to their sins. Yisrael committed these idolatrous atrocities and were sent to Golus as the ’10 lost tribes’, yet Yehuda took no notice and performed more idolatry than Yisrael. After Golus, Hashem will re-gather every Jew to Israel, even if there is only “one Jew in a city or two in a country”. Hashem will provide the Jewish people with good leaders who will relay knowledge and the entire people will be holy. All nations will gather to Yerusholayim and the Jewish people will stop iniquity. Hashem will bring back Yisrael and give them an inheritance in Israel despite “betraying Him”. The Jewish people will regret their evil doings and will beseech Hashem for mercy and will recognise that they were foolish in turning to idols for assistance and not listening to Him.
Perek 4: Yirmiya promises that if the Jewish people repent and when “they swear ‘as Hashem lives” i.e. they accept Hashem’s existence as certain, they will not wander in Golus (Rashi). He urges them to build a relationship with Hashem before times of troubles so they will not “sew upon thorns” and so their prayers will be more credible. Yirmiya responds to those that feel little or no connection to Hashem and urges them to “circumcise their heart to Hashem” to remove their sinful exterior to enable their inner self to shine (Malbim). Hashem will bring great destruction to Yerusholayim where Kings, princes, Kohanim and prophets will be overwhelmed by hashem’s revelation and the false prophets’ optimism will be rebutted. The people must repent and beseech Hashem as this is the only way to avoid the obliteration from the surrounding enemy. Although the Jews’ sins are directly responsible, Hashem is in excruciating pain unable to witness His children suffering and bemoans that they think they have found ‘other (non existant) wisdom’ besides His. The land and cities will be made desolate and it will be overtaken by the enemy’s army. Yet, the Jewish people are complacent and instead of repenting, still focus on fashion accessories, despite the impending suffering.
Perek 5: Yirmiya questions whether one can find one person in the streets of Yerusholayim that genuinely serves Hashem and doesn’t just swear in his name. Hashem punished them to signal their mistake, yet they failed to recognise the cause of their retribution. Hashem insists that the Jewish people serving idols and abandoning Him and being unfaithful to one’s spouse cannot go unpunished. He will punish them, but not annihilate them completely; this will disprove the false prophets claims . Hashem will bring Nevuchadnetzar’s army to kill many Jews and seize their food supply. Just as they served foreign gods, they will now be enslaved to a foreign nation. Then, the Jewish people will comprehend their wrongdoing and realise that they misused the capabilities of their body loaned by Hashem and ultimately their potential, “they have eyes, but do not see” His wonders. Hashem is infinitely powerful: creating the world and providing rain at its correct time, yet they refuse to accept Him. Their evil deeds of greed, deceit, injustice and mercilessness prevent them from witnessing His existence. The evil society starts from the ‘top’ with the false Neviim and Kohanim, thus there is no other option, but to punish the entire people.
Perek 6: Yirmiya instructs the Shofar to be sounded signifying the beginning of the Babylonian conquest and that everyone should defend their property (Rashi). The nations will attack and although they will begin at noon, it will appear “like the day has passed” fighting in the dark, Hashem will enable the Jewish people’s enemies to be victorious. If the people repent immediately, they will be saved from this massacre, however “their ear is clogged and they cannot listen”. Therefore everyone will suffer, women, children and the elderly as everyone is directly accountable and are not embarrassed about their sinful pursuits. Hashem has adequately warned the people, yet they choose to ignore Him at their own peril. The sacrifices which they endeavour to incorporate the best ingredients “frankincense from Sheva” are futile as they are not “pleasant to Hashem”. Terror and mourning will grip all the Jewish people when the merciless and destructive enemy attacks.
Perek 7: Hashem told Yirmiya to relay that in order to continue inhabiting Israel they must improve their actions, treat the vulnerable with dignity and repent (He doesn’t tell them to follow the entire Torah and Mitzvos, just make a basic effort and Hashem will enable them to progress and achieve the rest). They must rebut the complacent perspective of the false prophets that nothing bad will occur. How can Jews steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely and serve idols, yet hypocritically pray to Hashem in the Beis Hamikdosh? Hence, just as Hashem destroyed the Mishkan of Shiloh (recorded in Shmuel Alef Perek 4 and 5), he will eradicate the Beis Hamikdosh. Hashem demands that Yirmiya should not pray for the people as they are undeserving (this emphasises power of prayer that Hashem has to tell Yirmiya not to pray or he would stop the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh!). Hashem mocks the sacrifices the people go to great lengths to offer up which was not one of the 10 commandments, whereas the commandment that ‘Hashem is the only G-d’ is blatantly ignored; the priorities of this society are flawed. The Neviim which continuously rebuke the people only serve to make them more stubborn. Hashem will abandon His people who erect idolatry even within the Beis Hamikdosh(see Malachim Beis 21:4 and 23:12)! They offer up their children to the Molech and thus rejoicing will cease in Yerusholayim.
Perek 8: Yirmiya describes how the evil, idol worshipping Kings of Yehuda’s remains will be dug up and left under the “sun which they served”. Their live descendants who follow in their way will be reprimanded severely to the extent that “death shall be preferable to life”. One who repents sincerely will be forgiven, yet everyone feigns innocence. Yirmiya rebukes those who claim falsely ‘we are wise and this is what the Torah wants’ (Radak). One who deviates from the Torah cannot be ‘wise’ as all wisdom is His and their Torah is misunderstood by their faulty leaders -“scribes pens” (Rashi) who should transmit the Torah to the people. Those people will lose everything when they are exiled and will be ashamed for deriding the possibility of attack. They will be completely wiped out and have to “remain silent” as they have no right to complain about their suffering due to their wrongdoings (Radak). Yirmiya describes his feelings of “grief, inner sickness and dismay” of what awaits the helpless Jews and that “he could weep all day”.
Perek 9: Yirmiya comments that he wants to live away from the Jewish people as they are “adulterers, traitors, speakers of falsehood and do not know Hashem”. Therefore Hashem will “refine them” through punishment, but will mourn the desolation of Israel when all Jews are exiled. Apart from Yirmiya can anyone forecast this and explain it; it is because the Jewish people abandoned Hashem and “followed their hearts” to serve idols. Hashem instructs the Jewish people to call the “women mourners” i.e. ‘funeral directors’ in advance of the many lives lost. Never should man boast about wisdom, strength, riches or any other talent as they are gifts from Hashem. But one who serves Hashem and exemplifies righteousness and justice which “Hashem delights” will receive reward and will rejoice. Hashem will punish Jew and gentile alike who do not treat each other respectfully.
Perek 10:Yirmiya insists that the Jewish people should not be influenced by secular culture or superstition or worthless man-made idolatry. Hashem is the only being that should be served by everyone; he does not rely on anything and is all powerful. Yirmiya writes a letter to the Chaldeans if they try to induce the Jews to serve idols in Golus. Hashem created the world with infinite wisdom and any other idol is “vanity” in comparison and will eventually “perish”. The Jewish people have lost interest in keeping their religion as their Kings have misguided them. Yirmiya beseeches Hashem that He punish the Jewish people (who keep some Mitzvos) only as much as necessary, but “pour His wrath” on nations which do not recognise Him at all.
Perek 11: Yirmiya requests that the Jewish people affirm their loyalty to their side of the covenant with Hashem i.e. observe the Torah and Mitzvos, affirm Hashem as their only G-d and be His people. Only then, will they receive the Land of Israel, however for several generations they did not serve Him, thus they will be punished. Hashem will not respond to their prayers (after the punishment begins, prior to that they can still repent and be forgiven) as they have served many idols and offered illegitimate sacrificies. Yirmiya inquires what the purpose of the Beis Hamikdosh is whilst the Jewish people have gone astray and even stopped circumcising their children (Radak). He thanks Hashem for saving him from the men of Anosos who attempted to poison his food and assassinate him; Yirmiya asks that those involved are punished (Rashi) and Hashem consents.
Perek 12: Yirmiya admits he is inferior to Hashem, but asks why in general the wicked prosper (according to Radak, Rashi maintains it either refers to Nevuchadnetzar or the men of Anosos). He requests that they get their deserved punishment. Hashem replies that if the wicked are successful it is because of a few Mitzvos they have performed, how much more so will a righteous person get rewarded (Nevuchadnetzar ran three steps in Hashem’s honour and thus was able to capture Yerusholayim, see Sanhedrin 96a; this fits in well with Rashi’s first understanding). Even Yirmiya’s family have plotted against him and attempt to frighten him (Radak), therefore Yirmiya cannot trust anyone as if they are friendly, they may attempt to poison his food. Yirmiya compares the “speckled” Jewish people with sins as surrounded by enemies “birds of prey” (Radak). Hashem’s chose land, Israel will be plundered and desolate. Even if Jews pray, they will be ignored, as they did not pray before the suffering befell them and their evil neighbours. After the torment of Golus, Hashem will havepity on them and restore them to their former glory and land providing people are as familiar with Him “they swear by His name” as they were with the Baal.
Perek 13: Hashem instructs Yirmiya to purchase a linen belt and wear it; however it may not touch water, so that it will become sweaty (Metzudas Dovid). He must then place it in a rock; Yirmiya obeyed. Yirmiya later was told to collect the disintegrated belt. Just as the belt was destroyed, similarly Hashem will obliterate Yehuda for ignoring Him and serving other gods. The Jewish people should act as a belt wrapped around one’s waist and cling to Hashem; they should be a source of pride and glory to Him. The Jewish people thought Yirmiya was intoxicated with a strange vision holding an old belt; Yirimiya proved that they were the drunkards as they would be drunk (overflowing) with suffering (Abarbanel). Hashem will have no mercy, thus fathers will turn on their sons. People should not dismiss this, but rather repent (Radak) and if they repent before the torment begins, they will be saved. Yirmiya comments that he will be worried (Radak) for what will occur to them and even the “King and the Queen mother” will suffer- this refers to Yehoyochin and his mothers (Rashi). The cities of Yeuda will be desolate and the splendour of Yerusholayim will be remembered as distant history. Yirmiya asks ‘What will you say when Hashem holds you to account for yours sins?’ (Rashi; this is a question we have to ask ourselves- we will be held to account for everything we do wrong.) Sin has become so engrained within the Jewish people that repenting is “like a leopard changing his spots” and thus they will be wiped out for their adultery and idolatry.
Perek 14: Yirmiya comments upon the severe droughts Hashem would bring upon Yehuda where no one can find water, hence farmers could not produce crops and there will be a ravenous famine. Subsequently animals will die of starvation leaving humans without food. Yirmiya beseeches Hashem that He should pity the Jewish people called ‘Yisroel’ meaning ‘prince of G-d’ (Rashi) and He should save them, not act as “a stranger”. Hashem responds that the Jewish people wandered for miles to access idols (Rashi) therefore, they will wander in Golus. Hashem tells Yirmiya to stop praying as even if the Jewish people fast and pray, they will be ignored. Yirmiya protests that it is unfair as the Jewish people are misled by the ‘false prophets’ who claim everything is hunky-dory. Hashem responds that the false prophets will be reprimanded the harshest, but the Jewish people should have realised that they were lying. Yirmiya continues to pray that despite all wrongdoing, the Jewish people should be forgiven.
Perek 15: Hashem responds that even were “Moshe and Shmuel” leading the people, they would be destroyed i.e. no blame is attached to Yirmiya. Hashem has decided that everyone will be killed brutally, the only decision is the method of death: sword, famine and captivity (which involves death; Rashi). Hashem has forgiven too many times, now the sin must finally be eliminated, therefore no one will mourn the Jewish people’s loss and parents will lose their children. Yirmiya cannot understand way he is hated; Hashem promises they will beg him for mercy when the troubles begin. Although Israel may be as strong as “iron” they will be defeated by “iron and copper” i.e. Nevudchadnetzar. Yirmiya begs that his failed assassinators be punished ruthlessly and that he should escape the persecution due to his loyalty to Hashem despite being humiliated and attacked; Yirmiya followed Hashem and learnt Torah, rather than “sit in the council of merrymakers”. Hashem agrees that if Yirmiya is able to get the Jewish people to repent, He will return to being their G-d and He will save them.
Perek 16: Hashem instructed Yirmiya not to get married and have children, as they would die of sickness from the famine. These dead will not be buried, lamented or mourned due to the sheer number of casualties. Similarly Hashem will remove any rejoicing such as weddings from the Jewish people due to the devastation. The sole reason for this is that the Jewish people did not follow in the ways of the Torah and forsook Hashem to serve other gods. Thus the Jewish people will be exiled and Hashem will no longer be credited for “redeeming the Jewish people from Egypt, rather for dispersing them amongst the nations”. Hashem will send many “fisherman” i.e. hunters (Possibly a hint to parable of Reb Akiva of the fox and the fish- the Jew represents the fish). Hashem was aware of all their sins and will punish them for performing abominations in Israel (this coincides with the Ohr Hachaim who writes that due to the sensitivity of Israel, sins will cause people to be uprooted). Yirmiya comments that the concept that man can create a god is utterly false, therefore Hashem will reveal His true power.
Perek 17: Hashem’s verdict is sealed with a pen of iron and it cannot be erased. Throughout Israel idolatrous altars, Asheira trees and the Molech exist. Hashem will punish those involved and those who “trust in man” i.e. believe if they toil, they will automatically reap the rewards and ignore Hashem. Whereas he who trusts in Hashem will be looked after in times of plenty and in famine by Him. Although the Jews may appear religious, “their hearts are sick”- they are not genuine; Hashem judges the internal not external, in addition to all of one’s actions. Those who are wicked, yet wealthy will either lose that wealth, be dishonoured or die young (Radak). Hashem is the source of everything and those that forsake him “are forsaking the living waters”- they are practically digging their own graves. Yirmiya pleads with Hashem that He should cure him from the abuse showered upon him as Hashem is the only one that can save him. The Jewish people ask when Hashem’s word will be fulfilled. Yirmiya has tried to delay it as a good leader by begging Hashem to rescind His plan. Yirmiya requests that his attackers be destroyed, but Hashem is the shelter on the day of evil, not the attacker. Hashem told Yeshaya to inform the residents of Yerusholayim that they must observe Shabbos and if they do Yerusholayim will be inhabited forever, Jewish Kings descended from Dovid will rule and sacrifices will be offered up in the Beis Hamikdosh. However if they break Shabbos, they will be wiped out and the land will be desolate.
Perek 18: Hashem told Yirmiya to go to the house of the potter; Yirmiya went and found the potter doing work on the wheel. The potter ruined one vessel and he fashioned another vessel. Similarly the Jewish people are compared to clay in a potter’s hand, when the Jewish people sin they will be destroyed, but when they repent they will be preserved. Hashem instructs the residents of Yehuda to repent and improve their deeds, but nevertheless they “follow the way of his heart”. Even the nations are shocked by this attitude (Metzudas Dovid; this is the attitude of our secular, plural and liberal society) and refer to it as a “disgraceful thing”. The Jewish people reject clean water- Hashem, for murky water- idolatry and believe Orthodox Judaism is outdated and thus find “paths which have not been trodden” (a reference to progressive forms of Judaism). Hence, they will be punished and will not be saved (Rashi) when they need assistance. They conspire against Yirmiya and Yirmiya pleads that their families should die by famine and sword. Like they planned to launch a surprise attack against Yirmiya, he begs that they should die suddenly and that Hashem should not forgive them.
Perek 19: Hashem demanded Yirmiya purchase an earthen jug and deliver a prophecy at the Valley of Ben Hinnom in front of the elders. Hashem will destroy Yehuda because they offered sacrifices and served strange idols in Ben Hinnom particularly the Molech which involved child sacrifice. One day people will not call that location Ben Hinnom- relating to the moaning of the slaughtered children, rather it will be called ‘Valley of Sacrifice’ after He will take action. Those that attempt to save Yehuda will be unsuccessful and will be victim to their enemies. Desperation will strike causing cannibalism where nations will be bewildered by the extent of the suffering of the Jewish people. Hashem commanded Yirmiya to smash the jug before his audience. Just as the jug was shattered, so too the people and Yerusholayim will be eradicated and many will die on account of the houses where libations and offering were sacrificed to foreign gods (according to Radak’s first understanding). Yirmiya related this message in the Beis Hamikdosh. Due to the impudence and haughtiness of the Jewish people not listening to Hashem, they would face severe anguish.
Perek 20: Pashchur- the deputy Kohen Gadol (Radak) imprisoned Yirmiya due to his former ‘depressing prophecies’, but released him the following day. Yirmiya commented that Hashem did not call his name Pachshur meaning a great and noble person rather ‘Magor Misaviv’ meaning surrounded by terror. Pachshur’s friends would be either exiled or massacred, whereas Pachshur would be exiled to Bovel and die there. The Jewish people’s treasures would be seized by foreign kings. Yirmiya cries out that Hashem persuaded him to become a Novi, yet he is scorned and whenever he speaks, he relates prophecies of destruction. Yirmiya is unable not to tell over the prophecies, but notes that he is aware of many attempting to befriend him and then poisoning his food (Radak). Hashem is on Yirmiya’s side and therefore they will not succeed as He understands man’s true intentions and “saves the poor from evildoers”. Yirmiya curses the day of his birth, the man who proclaimed his birth that the man should be wiped out- this man was Pachshur (Radak). He regrets the fact that he was born alive and not having died in his Mother’s womb.
Perek 21: Pachshur and Tzefanyoh requested that Yirmiya pray Hashem would perform wonders when Nevudchadnetzar was waging war against Yehuda. Yirmiya replied that Hashem would ensure the Jewish people were incapable of defending themselves (Radak) and the Chaldeans (Babylonian savages) would be able to enter the city (Radak). Hashem would wipe out the inhabitants of Yerusholayim, afterwards Tzidkiyoh, his dignitaries and all the survivors would be taken captive by a merciless Nevudchantzar. Yirmiya presents a simple choice either be killed and remain in the city or defect to the Babylonians and live, but be exiled. Hashem has decided to enable the Babylonians to burn the city due to the evil behaviour of the Jewish people.
Perek 22: Yirmiya delivered a message in the King’s palace that Hashem wants King to do “justice and charity”, help the vulnerable and not kill innocent individuals. If this occurs Kings descended from Dovid will rule in splendour, otherwise the palace will be obliterated. Nations will recognise that the desolation of the Jewish people was because they abandoned Hashem and served idols. Yehoiyokim who died had a better end than Yehoiyochin who was exiled for 37 years never to return and similarly Tzidkiyoh (Shallum refers to Tzidkiyoh who was perfect). Yirmiya criticises Yehoiyokim who hired workers to build a lavish palace, but did not pay them. Hashem will not enable Yehoiyokim’s reign of dishonesty and oppression to continue whereas his father Yoshiyoh had a long reign due to honesty and kindness. Yirmiya assures that Yehoiyokom will die and people will not regret his loss. Yirmiya instructs the Jewish people to go to the Beis Hamikdosh and cry that all their allies have been defeated by Nevuchadnetzar. Hashem has tried to encourage the Jewish people to repent from their evil ways since they left Egypt, yet they were not attentive. The leaders of allies (Radak) who Yehuda depended on were exiled and similarly those that relied on the security of Yehoiyokom’s magnificent palace are hopeless. Yehoiyokom’s son- Yehoinyoh (Choniyoh is a derogatory form of his name) would be delivered into the hands of Nevudchatnetzar and would die in a foreign land, but would not return home. He would be exiled and die childless and would not prosper.
Perek 23: Yirmiya emphasises that the evil Kings of Yehuda will face retribution for bringing about the destruction of Yehuda through leading them to sin. After Yehuda is punished they will return to Israel and multiply under descendants of Dovid leading them righteously, subsequently they will not suffer. Thus, Hashem will not be know as the ‘G-d who brought the Jews out of Egypt’, rather the ‘G-d who brought up the Jewish people from the exile’. Hashem is enraged by the false prophets who mislead society, adulterers and people who swear falsely. Even the Neviim and Kohanim who are supposed to guide the people, behave incorrectly and thus would receive bitter punishment “like wormwood”. The Jewish people behaved like “Sodom and Ammorah”. Hashem warns the Jews not to listen to false prophets who claim there will be peace which contradicted His prophecy and caused people to stay from Him. Man cannot hide from Hashem; He was fully aware of the false prophecies and Yirmiya instructs the false prophets to relate their dreams as dreams and not pretend they are G-d’s word. The Jewish people have come to reject a Maasoh- prophecy and refer to it as a “burden” (alternative translation for the same word). Hashem instructs Yirmiya not to use the term Maasoh and if the people use it they will be exiled and Hashem will remove His presence, and this will causing the Jewish people to be embaressed.
Perek 24: Yirmiya was shown two pots of figs: one contained good figs, the other bad figs. Hashem will return the “good” exile of Yehuda and return them to Israel enabling them to rebuild. He will forge a close relationship with them where He will be a G-d and they will be a loyal people. However Tzidkiyoh and those that were dwelling in Egypt, “the bad figs” would be a disgrace to the nations and will be exiled. They will be annihilated by the sword, famine or pestilence and will be uproot from the Land of Israel.
Perek 25: Hashem sent numerous Neviim to change the behaviour of the Jewish people from the end of Yoshiyoh’s reign onwards, yet the Jews ignored them. The message was simple: stop serving idols and repent in order to remain in the Land of Israel. Because Hashem was ignored, He will stir Nevuchadnetzar to pulverise Israel and leave it desolate for 70 years (this was indeed the period between the two Batei Mikdash). Consequently, Hashem will punish Bovel and many nations who were formerly salves to Bovel will enslave them (Malbim and others). Yirmiya gives the metaphorical ‘cup of wine’ representing punishment to various listed nations and Yehuda. He beckons them to accept the slavery and eventual devastation (Metzudas Dovid), even if they refuse to drink, they will be subject to this punishment. The decision is final for Hashem to venomously wipe out evil from the world. Hashem will incite nations against each other (Rashi) and Bavel will initiate a great battle (Metzudas Dovid). Many will die; Yirmiya tells the leaders of Yehuda to cry as their people will die, (Abarbanel) and the leaders will be unable to escape either. Similarly Israel’s cities will be destroyed. Hashem abandoned the Beis Hamikdosh when His will was broken like a “young lion which left its hut” when it lacks food (Radak).
Perek 26: Yirmiya delivered a prophecy in the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdosh. He demanded that every Jew repent, serve Hashem and listen to the Neviim. Otherwise Hashem would destroy the Beis Hamikdosh like “Shiloh” (The Mishkan of Shiloh was destroyed in Shmuel Alef 4) and Yerusholayim would be referenced as a curse. The Jewish people responded that Yirmiya must be killed for this prophecy as they believed he composed it (Metzudas Dovid). However Yirmiya confirmed that indeed he was merely reciting Hashem’s prophecy and although they could kill him if they wished, ultimately he was innocent. The Kohanim argued that Yirmiya should not die as he was a Novi of Hashem. The righteous Elders reinforced Yirmiya’s innocence and argued that Chizkiyoh tolerated Micha the Novi when he prophesised that Yerusholayim would be destroyed. Micha was not put to death, on the contrary Chizkiyoh heeded his words and beseeched Hashem who renounced the punishment, and therefore Yirmiya should not be killed. However the wicked retorted that Uriyoh testified that Yerusholayim would be annihilated and Yehoiyokom pursued him to Egypt, seized and murdered him (Rashi). Nevertheless Achikom rescued Yirmiya from being murdered by the crowd (Malbim).
Perek 27: Yirmiya related this prophecy at the beginning of Yehoiyokom’s reign; this was 3 years before Nevudchadnetzar rose to power. Hashem instructed Yirmiya to strap a yoke (Radak) on his neck and go to Edom, Moav, Ammon, Tzor and Tzidon. He should tell them that Hashem created the world and has decided that all nations shall serve Nevudchadnetzar and his descendants. If a nation tried to rebel, they will be wiped out by the “sword, famine and pestilence”. The false prophets are to be ignored when they claim “You shall not serve the King of Bovel” and “the vessels of the Beis Hamikdosh will be returned from Bovel” as they will cause their demise. However a nation that is dominated by Nevudchadnetzar will be able to dwell on their territory and live. If these prophets are genuine they should pray to Hashem that he should protect the remaining vessels from the Beis Hamikdosh. In truth, Hashem affirmed that the vessels will only be returned when he wishes (Rashi holds this is in the days of Sheshbatzar, see Ezra 1:7-11).
Perek 28: Chananyoh prophesised that Hashem had overcome Bovel, thus the vessels of the Beis Hamidosh would be returned and the exile had ended. Yirmiya responded “Amen! So shall Hashem do”, but argued that there was a much bleaker reality and the former prophets recognised this, however there was a spate of new ‘optimistic, yet out of touch’ prophets. Chananyoh took the yoke off Yirmiya’s neck and shattered it; this represented the fact that Bovel’s supremacy would culminate in two years. Hashem told Yirmiya that “you have broken a yoke of wood, you shall replace them with a yoke of iron”. These nations will face tougher subjugation to Bovel just as iron is stronger than wood (Metzudas Dovid). Yirmiya added that Chananyoh was a false prophet and hence would die within the year. Chananyoh died later that year in Tishri the day before Rosh Hashana (Radak).
Perek 29: Yirmiya sent a scroll from Yerusholayim to those exiled in Bovel and instructed them to build houses and gardens in addition to marrying wives and bearing children. Wherever they are located they should pray for that city’s peace (this is the source for Pirkei Avos 2:2). Hashem reminds them to ignore the false prophets and thus after 70 years, not earlier like the false prophets (Metzudas Dovid) He will remember the Jewish people and rebuild the Beis Hamikdosh. Hashem’s intention of placing the Jewish people in Golus is for their ultimate benefit “for peace and not of evil to grant them a future and hope” (Metzudas Dovid). Jews will seek Hashem and He will end the Golus and gather Jews from the nations and establish the Jewish dynasty and kingdom (Metzudas Dovid). Hashem determined that Tzidkiyoh (Rashi) and the other inhabitants of Yerusholayim who had not yet been exiled would be wiped out by the “sword, famine and pestilence”. This is due to their refusal to listen to Hashem and His prophet. Yirmiya testified that Tzidkiyoh and Achav would be captured and slaughtered by Nevuchadnetzar due to an immoral incident with Nevuchadnetzar’s daughter (see Sanhedrin 93a). Yirmiya criticised Shemaya for pretending to be an important officer (Abarbanel) and for imprisoning every prophet who they refered to as a “madman” and question why he had not been arrested. Since Shemaya prophesised falsely in public, he would never have a descendant amongst the Zekeinim- Elders (Metzudas Dovid).
Perek 30: Yirmiya was told to write the following prophecy on a scroll. Hashem will end the Golus and return them to the Land of Israel. Prior to the redemption the war of Gog U’magog will occur (Radak amongst others, however some interpret this to refer to redemption from Bovel) and Jews will “tremble and fear” the enemy (Malbim). Just as a man who initiates a child’s conception does not experience the birth tremors, so too the Jewish people who sinned should not face the tough punishment of Golus (Malbim). However Hashem will break the yoke mentioned previously and ensure Jews can serve Him rather than be enslaved by foreign nations. Hashem tells Yackov (representing the Jewish people at a lowly state) not to fear as He will save the Jewish people, bring tranquillity and destroy their enemies. The Jewish people would be punished proportionately, but not be entirely eradicated. Although many nations will believe the Jewish “wound” of tragedy and Israel annihilation is “uncurable” and the Jewish peopele’s allies have abandoned them whether Ashur or Egypt (Radak), Hashem will remedy them. Yerusholayim and the Beis Hamikdosh would be restored, the Jewish people will multiply and be as beloved to Hashem as in former times (Medzudas Dovid). The Jewish people will be loyal to Hashem and He will be their G-d. Once the Golus has finished will have their own leader, rather than be subservient to other nations.
Perek 31: Hashem describes how the Jewish people found favour in His eyes when He redeemed them from Egypt and guided them to the Land of Israel. Hashem has loved the Jewish people for a long time and therefore performs kindness towards them. Although the current situation is bleak, He will rebuild the Jewish people and they will rejoice and construct vineyards on the currently desolate mountains of the Shomron. When the redemption occurs, the Jewish people will celebrate and praise Hashem; Hashem will gather the entire Jewish people whether disabled or “from the north”- the 10 lost tribes with “weeping and supplication”. Hashem will be a father to His people even “Efraim” due to its lowly spriritual state and will bring them back from the Golus. Suffering and worry will cease. The Beis Hamikdosh will be in use an many sacrifices will be offered up. The voice of Rachel Immeinu crying bitterly for her children when they are Golus is heard. Hashem assures her that the loyalty of the Jewish people throughout Golus despite extreme suffering will not go unnoticed (Radak) and they will return home. Efraim will regret their former evil- “behaviour of their youth” and have repented. Yirmiya relates that Efraim is His “delightful child” and will have mercy on him. Hashem beckons the Jewish people to repent and return to him like an adulterous wife to their first husband (Radak). The Jewish people will repopulate Israel; Yirmiya found this vision “sweet”. Hashem will conscientiously rebuild the Jewish people just as He destroyed them during the Golus (more verbs to describe the negative than positive as the negative is finite, but the good is never ending). Hashem will punish wicked people for their misdeeds directly. A new covenant between the Jewish people and Hashem will be formed whereby they will devoutly observe the Torah and serve Hashem as their G-d; in return He will be a G-d to them and protect them. It will not be necessary for people to preach Hashem’s existence as “they will all know Him”. Hashem guarantees just as the laws of nature will not change, He will not desert the Jewish people and Israel will be rebuilt.
Perek 32: During Bovel’s siege, Yirmiya was imprisoned in the military courtyard by King Tzidkoiyoh for delivering prophecies that Bovel would conquer Yehuda, Tzidkiyoh would be escorted to the King of Bovel and that any military attempt against Bovel would fail. Yirmiya was told his uncle Chanamel would come to him to request he buy a family possessed field (there is a Halachic obligation for relative to redeem family property to ensure the land remains within the family and thus the tribal territories, see Vayikra 25:25). Behold Chanamel approached Yirmiya and asked him to buy this field in Ansos in the territory of Binyamin. Yirmiya purchased the field and the Possukim elaborate upon the details of the commercial transaction, documentation and payment. Yirmiya instructed Boruch to store the deed of payment (proof of the purchase) in earthenware vessels for longevity. This signified that once again houses, fields and vineyards would be bought and sold in the currently desolate Land of Israel. Yirmiya praised Hashem for His enormous power, kindness to those that follow Him and precise punishment for those that disobey Him throughout history. Hashem gave the Jewish people the Land of Israel and when they sinned, he warned them what would occur and this is being actualised with the beginning of Bovel’s siege. Yirmiya inquired what the purpose was of inquiring a field in Israel if it would be seized by the Chaldeans. Hashem responded that although the Chaldeans would indeed set Yerusholayim ablaze due to the longstanding sinful activity of the entire Jewish people and disobedience towards His Neviim. Nevertheless He will return them to the Land of Israel from where He dispersed them and He will be a G-d to the Jewish people who will be loyal to him; this covenant will last forever and He will ensure that fields will be purchased in this desolate land.
Perek 33: Yirmiya recounts a second prophecy while “confined in the military courtyard”. Hashem will be the one to make Yerusholayim into a magnificent city. Hashem will answer sincere prayers (contrary to what He said previously) and will relate comforting visions (Radak). Because the inhabitants of Yerusholayim chose to fight and Hashem abandoned them temporarily for their evil ways, their houses will be full of corpses. Then, Hashem will rebuild His people, return them from Golus and forgive them of their sins. Hashem’s acclaim will spread worldwide and nations will fear the Jewish people. Instead of a wasteland Yerusholayim, happiness and exultation of weddings will frequent Yerusholayim and shepherds nurturing their sheep. Like “flock passing under the rod of one who counts them, Hashem will appoint a King who will account for every member of the Jewish people (Abarbanel). Additionally the Mashiach- “plant of righteousness” (Radak) will perform righteousness and justice throughout Israel. Yehuda and Yerusholayim will be secure and no King, Kohen, Levi will be permanently excluded from their job (Rashi) just as the rules of nature apply. Thus the belief that Hashem has reject the “two families” i.e. Kings and Kohanim is utterly false.
Perek 34: Yirmiya went to Tzidkiyoh when Nevudchadnetzar was besieging Yeroshalayim. He reiterated that Bovel would destroy all the cities of Yehuda and Tzidkiyoh would not escape and would be escorted to Bovel. However Tzidkiyoh would not die in Bovel, rather he would die peacefully and would be lamented. Tzidkiyoh made a covenant with the Jewish people to repent of their sin of retaining their servants and thus release their Jewish servants and the Jewish people obeyed this. However they did not keep to their side of the bargain and took back their slaves. Hashem commented that He explicitly wrote in the Torah that “after 7 years every Jewish slave must be freed”. They died was what correct, but then went back on it and profaned Hashem’s name. Thus, He will punish the transgressors of the covenant in addition to Tzidkiyoh for not protesting against their actions (Malbim) with the “sword, pestilence and famine” and deliver them to their enemies and subsequently their deaths and Yehuda will be desolate.
Perek 35: Yirmiya was instructed by Hashem to go the Beis Hamikdosh to the Rechavites- a Levite family descended from Yisro and “give them wine to drink”. However they refused as their founding father Yonodov demanded that 1) they should not drink wine 2) should not build a house or vineyard 3) dwell only in tents. They were loyal to their Yonodov’s wishes and due to the siege dwelt temporarily in Yerusholyaim. Yirmiya explained that Yonodov obeyed Yonodov’s words for many years despite no reminders. However Hashem send numerous Neviim to rebuke the Jewish people continuously and encourage them to repent yet they still refuse to listen to Him. Consequently Hashem will punish the Jewish people for the obstinacy, but will reward the Rechavites that they will always serve as Kohanim in the Beis Hamikdosh for their loyalty and obeying Yonodov’s wishes.
Perek 36: Hashem commanded Yirmiya to write down all the prophecies on a scroll, this book came to be known as Aichah (Radak); Yirmiya asked Boruch to write these down and relate these to the people (whilst he was imprisoned) in the Beis Hamikdosh on “fast days” i.e. when people gather to find ways to get out of their challenging circumstances (Radak quoting his father). Hopefully this would encourage the Jewish people to repent. Boruch obeyed Yirmiya’s request and when Yehoiyokim made a fast, Boruch publicised Yirmiya’s prophecies in the Beis Hamikdosh. Micha heard these prophecies and related them to the officers who wished to see Boruch and Boruch read the prophecies to them. The officers confirmed that Boruch copied down the prophecy directly from Yirmiya and not a rough interpretation and were frightened of the punishment they were due from Hashem (Abarbanel, Malbim argues they feared the King would find out Baruch read the prophecies in public). They told Boruch and Yirmiya to hide (even within the military courtyard, Radak). They showed the King the scrolls, he instructed Yehudi to take the scroll and read from it. The King was in his winter house and had a lit furnace, after several Possukim, he erased the text and cast it into the fireplace despite several people pleading with him not to do so. The King was not frightened that Hashem would punish them or considered repenting. He called for Yirmiya and Baruch, but Hashem ensured were hidden miraculously and Hahsem urged Yirmiya to rewrite his prophecies. Yehoiyokim would have no descendants rule after him and Hashem would ensure his descendants and the rest of Yehuda will receive retribution as described in the prophecies. Boruch rewrote the original prophecies and added many more dictated by Yirmiya.
Perek 37: Tzidkiyoh replaced Yehoiyochin (otherwise known as Coniyoh) as King of Yehuda, but he and his kingdom did not follow Hashem. Tzidkiyoh instructed Yirmiya to pray that Hashem should have mercy on the Jewish people and Yirmiya was released from the military courtyard. The Egyptians went to assist Yehuda and consequently the Chaldeans stopped besieging Yerusholayim. Hashem warned Tzidkiyoh that although the Chaldeans have dispersed, they would return and Egypt would withdraw. The Jewish people would be unable to thwart Hashem’s plan for Yerusholayim’s annihilation. Yirmiya concealed himself amongst the people to ensure that he would not be imprisoned again. Yiriyoh- the city guard (to ensure no one defected to the Chaldeans) seized Yirmiya and accused him of fleeing to the Chaldeans; he ignored Yirmiya’s protests of innocence. The officers were enraged with Yirmiya and placed him deep within the dungeon, the worst possible prison (Abarbanel) and Yirmiya remained there for a long period of time. Yirmiya was brought before Tzidkiyoh and told him that he would be delivered to the Chaldeans and questioned why he was imprisoned. Yirmiya mocked the false prophets who believed that “the King of Bovel would not come upon the Land of Israel”. He begged to be released from the dungeon and Tzidkiyoh transferred him to the military courtyard and provided him with a loaf of bread every day.
Perek 38: Shefatyoh, Gedalyoh and Pashchur heard Yirmiya’s prophecies and determined that Yirmiya should be killed. Tzidkiyoh agrees with this and gives them free reign over him (Rashi) and they put him in a deep pit of Malkiyoh son of Tzidkiyoh. Eved Melech- a Cushite officer protested against Yirmiya’s captivity and argued that although he would probably die anyway due to the famine, theses men were bringing his death closer (Rashi). Hence Tzidkyioh commanded him to garner 30 men (many were required as they were weak due to the famine, Rashi) and extract Yirmiya from the pit with a rope and brought him to the military courtyard. Tzidkiyoh requested that Yirmiya relate Hashem’s prophecy, Yirmiya responded that if he would recite G-d’s prophecy, he would be killed and thus Tzidkiyoh pledged not to kill him or deliver him to the men. Yirmiya told Tzidkiyoh that if he defects to the Chaldeans, he would live and Yerusholayim would not be burned. Tzidkiyoh feared the Chaldeans making him a slave for the Jews that joined them, nevertheless Yirmiya reassured him that this would not occur. Otherwise Yehoiyochin’s wives (Metzudas Dovid) would be led out by the officers of Bovel and would comment that Tzidkiyoh was “overcome by cohorts” i.e. false prophets (Rashi). Tzidkiyoh demanded that no one should be aware of this prophecy and Yirmiya would not die. Yirmiya was instructed to conceal the prophecy from the officers which he did and Yirmiya remained in the military courtyard until the day when Yerusholayim was captured.
Perek 39: On the 9th of Tammuz the Beis Hamikdosh was breached (we record the breach of the 2nd Beis Hamikdosh on the 17 of Tammuz, see Taanis 28b). Nevuchadnetzar’s officers sat at the gate where previously the Sanhedrin sat; this signified the transfer of leadership. Tzidkiyoh fled from the palace gardens to the plains of Yericho, however he was pursued by the Chaldean who eventually seized him and brought him to Nevuchadnetzar. Nevuchadnetzar massacred Tzidkiyoh’s sons and the Sanhedrin (Rashi) or dignitaries of Yehuda (Radak) before Tzidkiyoh in Rivloh, blinded him and took him in chains to Bovel. The Chaldeans burnt all the buildings in Yerusholayim including the palace. Nevuzradon exiled the survivors to Bovel, but the destitute were allowed to remain in Yerusholayim and were given land. Nevuchadnetzar instructed Nevuzradon not to harm Yirmiya and fulfill whatever Yirmiya wished, hence he was released from prison. Whilst Yirmiya was in prison, Hashem demanded he inform Eved Melech the Cushite (who saved him from the prison earlier) that when Yerusholayim would be obliterated, he would be saved due to his loyalty to Hashem.
Perek 40: Yirmiya went into exile in shackles of his own accord (according to Rashi as Nevuzradon could not harm him). Nevuzradon commented that Hashem promised Yerusholayim would be desecrated due to the Jewish people’s sins and since Bovel’s was merely obeying His orders as Yirmiya was free from sin Nevuzradon would let him free. (Metzudas Dovid). Yirmiya refused. Nevuzradon advised him to return to Gedalyoh who was appointed as Head of Yehdua for all the remaining Jews and gave him some money. Yirmiya lived with Gedalyoh and Jewish inhabitants of Yehuda. However when some Jews including Yishmoel heard that Gedalyoh was to rule over the remaining Jewish population and no further Jews were to be exiled (Abarbanel), many Jews returned from their hiding places in nearby countries. Gedalyoh told them to serve the Chaldeans so it will benefit them and many Jews returned from the exile to live under his reign. Yochanan warned Gedalyoh that Yishmoel was plotting to assassinate him and offered to kill him secretly to ensure that Gedalyoh survived and thus Yehuda would not perish. Gedalyoh refused. The Gemora (Niddah 61a) holds Gedalyoh accountable for not heeding this advice as although one may not accept Lashon Hara, one should nevertheless be wary and take the necessary precautions.
Perek 41: Yishmoel ate bread at a festive Rosh Hashona meal with Gedalyoh (Abarbanel) and Yishmael together with ten men murdered him and every potential witness, thus no one was aware of Gedalyoh’s assassination. Eighty men arrived from Shechem to offer up offerings in the Beis Hamikdosh and found out on the way about its destruction and mourned its loss (Radak). Yishmoel took them to Mitzpah and pretended to weep with them (Radak) and slew them out of sheer brutality into a pit (Malbim). Ten men bribed him and Yishmoel allowed them to survive. Yishmoel led the remaining Jews into captivity; Yochanon found out about Yishmoel’s actions and pursued after him with an army. Yishmoel fled with 80 men, but his captives returned to Yochanan and they dwelt in Gerus Kimhom, but feared the Chaldeans would retaliate after Gedalyoh’s murder as he was Nevuchadnetzar’s governor.
Perek 42: Yochanan, his army and the people asked Yirmiya to inquire from Hashem whether they should remain in Israel or go to Eygpt. Yirmiya agreed, but insisted they would listen to Hashem whether the answer appeared to be “good or bad” in their eyes (Metzudas Dovid). Ten days later Hashem responded that if they dwell in Israel, He would rebuild them and they would not need to fear Bovel. However if they reject the Land of Israel to escape war and hunger, their fears will be actualised and once they leave Israel, they will never be able to return. Hashem warned that if they decide to move to Egypt, it will prove that their request to ascertain where they should live was insincere and they will die by the “sword, famine and pestilence” in Egypt.
Perek 43: When Yirmiya finished relating his message, Azariyoh and Yochanan amongst the others claimed that Yirmiya was lying in order to deliver them into the Chaldeans. They refused to listen to Hashem’s answer and initially went to south Yehuda, but ventured to Egypt and took Yirmiya, Baruch and Shofon for protection (Abarbanel). Hashem told Yirmiya to conceal a large stone in morter in the Egyptian city of Tachpanches in public. Hashem foresaw that Nevuchadnetzar would place his throne and palace over these stones. Nevuchadnetzar would kill and exile the Jews living there (besides the three mentioned above) and would kill the Egyptian deities’ temples and altars.
Perek 44: Yirmiya criticises the inhabitants of Egypt saying that Yehuda will be severely reprimanded for their unprecedented idolatry and ignoring the many warnings of the Neviim not to serve foreign idols. Yet these people wish to live in Egypt despite Hashem’s promise that not only will their cities be wiped out like Yehuda, the inhabitants will also be massacred. He reminds them that the evil actions of their forefathers and Kings caused the destruction of Yehuda (Malbim) due to the fact that they did not fear Hashem or follow in the ways of His Torah and thus they were wiped out. These residents of Egypt deserve the same treatments as Yerusholayim and no one will survive. The female idolaters or their husbands who were aware of their practices protested that during the times when idolatry was prevalent, they lived comfortable lives. They believed that the suffering was caused from a lack of commitment in their idolatry and wanted to continue serving idols. Yirmiya retorted that obviously Hashem was aware of their idolatrous practices, but waited for the misdeeds to reach a level worthy of the Beis Hamikdosh being decimated (Malbim). Nevertheless Yirmiya added that Hashem had decided that their vows to serve more idolatry would be fulfilled (example of ‘in the way a person wants to go- he is lead whether for good or evil) and thus they would be exterminated before they have an opportunity to repent (Metzudas Dovid) and the only survivors will be Yirmiya and his colleagues. A signal that this evil will occur is that King of Egypt- Hophra (Rashi understands this name as a nickname meaning a broken King foreshadowing his downfall however Radak and Abarbanel disagree) would be delivered into the hands of Bovel who sought to kill him.
Perek 45: After Yirmiya finished dictating Megillas Eichah to Baruch (Abarbanel), Baruch complained that Hashem that in addition to his “pain” inflicted by the Jewish people for supporting Yirmiya, he also experienced “grief” that he was unable to give prophecies. Yirmiya replied that Hashem had related prophecies that Israel which He “built” yet “will tear down” i.e. destroy. Thus, how could Baruch be concerned with himself (Interesting to note there is a dispute whether Baruch was worthy of becoming a Novi like the Abarbanel or not like the Rambam and Radak).
Perek 46: Yirmiya related a prophecy pertaining to Egypt that Bovel wiped out. Yirmiya sarcastically instructs Egypt to defend itself (Metzudas Dovid based on 2nd interpretation of Radak) and describes the chaotic scene of Egypt being devastated. There will be no survivors and Egypt will be flooded by enemies like the Nile floods its banks. Bovel and its coalition of armies: Kush and Phut will be successful and wreak havoc due to Hashem’s vengeance against their King Pharoh Necho who assassinated Yoshiah (Radak). Egpyt was renowned for its imported medicines from Gilead, Yirmiya emphasises that “their medicines are futile as they have no cure”. Hashem told Yirmiya to inform the Egyptians of their fate. Hashem will overcome the mighty Egyptians; Yirmiya taunts Pharoh Necho for “making a lot of noise” about defeating Nevuchadnetzar but was afraid to turn up to the battlefield (Metzudas Dovid). Yirmiya tells Egypt to prepare for exile as Noph (Egypt’s capital city, Radak) would be desolate. He mocks their “fattened” princes who feast instead of going out to war and flee in battle. Egypt would be “cut down” by Nevudchadnetzar’s “infinite” army which is an “embarrassment” to Egypt who previously defeated Bovel. Hashem will punish Egypt’s leader most notably King Ammon from No (Alaxandria), Pharoh Necho and the inhabitants of Egypt. Nevertheless the righteous people in Egypt i.e. Yirmiya and Baruch ben Neriah amongst others would be saved and have tranquillity. Hashem will eradicate the nations whereas only punish the Jewish people adequately for their misdeeds.
Perek 47: Hashem approached Yirmiya regarding the Pilishtim prior to Egypts’ conquest against Azoh. Bovel would attack Azoh like “a stream from the north which will spread over the land and its’ inhabitants” (Radak). Yirmiya describes the battle sounds of horses galloping and how fathers will not have mercy on their children to defend them from the enemy due to their weakness when Bovel will kill every Pilishti and the countries they aided: Tzor and Tzidon. Azoh is “bald” from the war with both Bovel and Egypt, hence the inhabitants have been continuously mourning. The Pilishtim will continue to suffer as Hashem warranted this due to their involvement with inflicting harm on the Jewish people when they were destroyed (Abarbanel).
Perek 48: Hashem describes how Moav would be annihilated and that the youth led in exile cry (Metzudas Dovid, additionally youth are generally the most optimistic- if they cry it is hopeless). Yirmiya recommends they flee away from civilisation (Rashi) in order to avoid suffering. Moav relied on its riches, nevertheless they will be taken like other less wealthy nations and Kemosh (the Moav god) would be unable to prevent them from going into exile. Every city will be destroyed and Yirmiya curses anyone who refrains from persecuting Moav; this clause is unparalleled with any other nation. Moav was a nation which were never exiled, Hashem will change that and ensure that Moav are ashamed of Kemosh. Yirmiya beckons their neighbours to lament for “staff of strength” – a secure and strong nation (see Malbim for more details). Yirmiya criticises Moav for believing that Hashem could not save the Jewish people and “mocking” the Jewish people; this was the reason for their punishment. Yirmiya adds that Moav should have repaid the Jewish people for when Avrohom saved Lot (Rashi). Moav a land of vineyards would stop producing wine and the shouting of those who tread on the grapes will transform into piercing screams (Radak) and all idolaters will be wiped out. Throughout Moav there are signs of mourning and shame that Moav has become a “derision” amongst the nations. Moav’s enemies will fly like eagles and Moav inhabitants will be exiled nevertheless in the period of Moshiach their captivity will end.
Perek 49: Yirmiya asks Ammon why once the tribe of Gad where expelled from their land, the King of Ammon taken rulership over their cities (Radak). Subsequently, the Chaldeans would attack Ammon and the entire people of Ammon including their dignitaries and King would flee and thus be scattered from their acquaintances. Nevertheless once they received their allotted punishment, they would be reprimanded. Edom were known to be knowledgeable in war tactics, yet would be unable to protect themselves from Nevuchadnetzar (Abarbanel). There will be no orphans or widows as no survivors would remain (Radak) and Edom is accountable for harming the Jewish people despite being closely related (Eisav and Yaakov). Botzrah would be decimated and it is almost like a messenger has encouraged many nations to unite against Edom- a “humble nation” small land with a minute population (Radak). Hashem will ensure Edom is wiped out for their “hastiness” in harming the Jewish people (Rashi). The King will mourn that Damascus “the city of my joy” has been destroyed. Keidar will be plundered despite only containing nomads with little valuables, Yirmiya advises they try to flee to neighbouring countries. Hashem would prevent Elam’s (another nation which assisted the Chaldeans conquest against Israel) secret weapon- the bow from being effective and thus they will be scattered across the globe and they will be wiped out, but reinstated during the period of Moshiach.
Perek 50: Yirmiya proclaims that Bovel and its deities will be mutilated by both Persia and Media (Rashi) and then the Yisrael captives of the 10 lost tribes will return to Israel (Radak) and they will want to serve Hashem. The Jewish people were “lost sheep” as they were misdirected by their leaders and their enemies claimed that because the Jewish people sinned against Hashem, they could torment the Jewish people. Yirmiya instructs Jews to escape from Bovel and Bovel would be eradicated by many enemies for “exalting like the mighty” rejoicing at their military feats without realising that Hashem orchestrated it (Radak). Bovel would be desolated and Hashem encourages the enemy to shoot every arrow as He would ensure it met its target (Radak). Ashur “consumed the flesh” of the Jewish people i.e. Yisroel however Nevuchadnetzar “broke the bones” – the remaining Jews of Yehuda. The Jewish people would return to Israel and then all sins will “shall not be found” as they are forgiven. Belshazar King of Bovel will be killed and his offspring shall not continue to rule (Metzudas Dovid). Bovel refuse to release their Jewish captives, thus Hashem will destroy Bovel and free His people. Bovel will become a weak, destitute country and their water supply will diminish due to Bovel serving foreign gods. Hashem swears that Persia will wipe out Bovel.
Perek 51: Hashem will bring Persia and Media against Bovel and the Chaldeans (Lev Kamai in the At Bash code where ת = אspells Kasdim- Chaldeans, see Rashi) and scatter them. Hashem tells the “archers” to have no pity on their youth, the Jewish people are not “widowed” although in Golus, Hashem abandons His wife temporarily, the Jewish people still exist and they will reunite (Radak). Bovel was Hashem’s medium to destroy other nations, but now they will be destroyed (highlighting that the whole time He was running events). The Jewish people praise Hashem for fighting on their behalf. The wealth and success of the nation of Bovel will end. Every idolater is foolish for fashioning lifeless being in vain whereas the Jewish people have Hashem who is infinitely powerful and thus Bovel would not be rebuilt. The former mightiest nation worldwide is afraid to go to war and their messengers hurry to inform the King of their decline. On the night of Bovel’s destruction their King Belshazar feasted and became drunk (see full episode in Doniel 5) and fell asleep never to awake. Yirmiya reminds Bovel of the Beis Hamikdosh they destroyed and thus they would receive the same treatment as they inflicted on Yehuda. Yirmiya wrote down the prophecy of Bovel’s annihilation and gave it to Boruch’s brother Seroyoh to read the prophecies in Bovel. He should then tie the scroll onto a stone and cast into the Euphrates and add that Bovel would sink because of the “evil Hashem would bring upon her”.
Perek 52: Tzidkiyoh became King when he was 21 and conducted himself inappropriately which caused Hashem to abandond Yehuda. Tzidkiyoh rebelled against Bovel and Nevudchadnetzar brought his army to besiege Yerusholayim and they penetrated on the 9th of Tammuz (the 2nd Beis Hamikdosh was 17th) and many fled including Tzidkiyoh, the Chaldeans pursued after him, captured him and brought him to Nevuchadnetzar. Nevuchadnetzar murdered Tzidkiyoh’s children before him, blinded him and put him in prison till his death. Nevuzaradon the head executioner burnt the Beis Hamikdosh and destroyed Yerusholayim. Many inhabitants of Yerusholayim and Jews who sided with Bovel were exiled, but the poorest Jews were allowed to tend to the land in Yerusholayim. The Chaldeans seized many items from the Beis Hamikdosh which are listed. Nevuzaradon took 68 people ranging from farmers in Yerusholayim to the king’s dignitaries to the King of Bovel who massacred them. Overall 4,600 Jews were exiled. Evil Medroach the next King of Bovel released Yehoiyochin from jail and treated him better than the other kings in captivity and provided him with regular meals till his death.