As a witness of the Lord (3)Jeremiah 44:15-30Ⅰ In Egyptian towns
Chapter 44 is the collecting message of Jeremiah who has still continued to work as a prophet in Egypt. Noph is a big city Memphis, it locates in where the gorge of Nile spreads out on the delta side, and Pathros seems to be the district which was in the southern part of the Nile delta; if it is so, Jews seemed to have been settled down while scattering considerably widely. In Egypt, it seems that there have been the Jewish colony from long ago, but would they have been listening to such information? At that point that they knew that it is impossible to live in Mizpah, people of Mizpah aimed at Egypt. In Verse 30, the name of Pharaoh Hophura (grandson of Necho, BC588-569) comes out; but it is thought that Jeremiah and Baruch would have survived up to that time, and witnessed the ending of this chapter even if it was few, and they became its witness.
This chapter is a thing a little before (582-581 years?) of Babylon military attack, but, Jeremiah is preaching the allegiance to the Lord in the streets, and repeating the warning that "Why are you going to destroy yourselves?". However, the Jews did not want to listen it. Although they have seen by own eyes the destruction of Judah (586 years) and heard, why they did not want to hear the advice of Jeremiah? The advice of Jeremiah consists of recollection (44:2-6), a warning to the Jews in Egypt (7-10), and conviction to the Jews (11-14). Why they do not want to listen? While also considering its matter, Baruch seems to write the confrontation of the word of God and of those who refuse to stubbornly it, in this whole Chapter 44, and also seems to do a warning to people in the next world.
Verse 15-19, this is the story of those who heard the message of Jeremiah. Baruch added thus the first. "Then all the men who were aware that their wives were burning sacrifice to other gods, along with all the women who were standing by, as a large assembly, including all the people who were living in Pathros in the land of Egypt, responded to Jeremiah, saying. " (15) The city of Pathros is mentioned in particular; probably, because the Jews living in those town were a lot, or prophet activities of Jeremiah have done there frequently; perhaps, Jeremiah and Baruch might have lived there. Of course, opposition from the people of the city would have been also increased.
Ⅱ Their misunderstanding
They say. "As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you! But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out libation to her just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food, and were well off, and saw no misfortune. But since we stopped burning out libations to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and by famine." (16-18) Those who said this seemed to be men of Pathros. Queen of heaven, it would be saying the goddess Ishtar stemming from in the old Babylonia; probably, they would be saying the era of Manasseh king that had been actively incorporating the pagan gods. It was BC695-641 years, and it was also a long era of peace of 54 years. About the days of Josiah king after him, for example, by the reformation that he eliminated the pagan gods, it looks so fine to us; but, for the people of the time, it is a transient thing, and it seemed to be caused confusion in the country. After Josiah died in battle of prevent the northward movement of the Egyptian army, everything was reverted to its previous state. For them, the tragic death of Josiah the king would it be looked to become the trigger of the destruction of kingdom Judah? Their opinion about the queen of the heaven, it points to it. It seemed to be told like that to the people who lived here from before; so, they have succeeded always a custom of good old days (?) which admired Ishtar goddess. So, they are saying that "Don't pay attention to themselves". Women say severally, too. "When we burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven, and were pouring out libations to her, was it without our husbands that we made for her sacrificial cakes on her image and poured out libations to her?" (19)
Women said "it is the order of our husband" and have imputed its responsibility to their husband; but goddess Ishtar was based on the fertility faith, and Egypt was famous cultured nation in the world. Because culture of the time was based on the agriculture, Jews who emigrated there would have been engaged in farming for the most part of course. So, in the religious act of worship of queen of the heaven, women had been involved as a protagonist. Perhaps, these women would have been proud that they were standing on the stage of a radiant modern civilization. The world involved in Baal God and Ishtar goddess was a tip civilization of the times. Egypt was a place of such paraphernalia. Men or women, among of them, the faith of Israel tradition which was said "I am your God, and you are my people,", it seems to be disappeared and closed anymore.
Ⅲ As a witness of the Lord
Jeremiah replied. "As for the smoking sacrifices that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your forefathers, your kings and your princes and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them, and did not all this come His mind? So the Lord was no longer able to endure it, because of the evil of your deeds, because of the abominations which you have committed; thus your land become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without an inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the Lord and not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day." (21-23) This "smoking sacrifices" means the faith of the goddess Ishtar. They have the illusion that everything has gone well by doing them, but, in fact, because God had the patience for it, and you have overlooked it; Jeremiah informed the thought of God thus. Your hometown / Judah was destroyed by it; it does not clear? Even for Jews living in Egypt, it is that of the "now"; it was the Verse 21-23 which was citing.
"Never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt," (26); this is declaration that the name of the Lord is forgotten. Once, in the times of Moses, Israel who made a sojourn in Egypt forgot the name of the Lord. However, the Lord says "Behold, I am watching over them," (27). The Lord does never overlook that His own name has been forgotten. It is said, "Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone. And those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number. Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs." (27-29); they will get to know by Egypt military invasion of Babylon soon that the testimony of Jeremiah was right. The God they did not admit was liveth, definitely. Perhaps, those who were able to return to the home country to survive would have been only a handful. However, this book which was left by Jeremiah and Baruch in pouring heart and soul, does not stop to us today the testimony that God is living. Please listen to the words of Paul. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal." (Galatians 6:7-8) They Jews who participated in a benefit of Egypt would have despised God. They said such faith is behind the times. However, God is still living and He is watching us. We are asked whether we are staring at that God. As a witness of the Lord, we also want to continue to keep up the words of God who is living in this modern, without hesitation.