Digging for Spiritual Gems (Jeremiah 32 -34)

Jeremiah 33:15 – Who is the “sprout” for David (jr 173 para 10)

The last two sentences of this reference directly contradict the scripture (Romans 5:18) cited as proof by stating: “This opened the way for some humans to be declared “righteous for life” and anointed with holy spirit, becoming parties to the new covenant.”  Romans 5:18 says “the result to men of all sorts [Greek Kingdom Interlinear and other Bibles: all men] is their being declared righteous for life” as a contrast to Adam’s sin causing condemnation to all sorts of men [all men]. The following verse 19 repeats this thought, contrasting that through one man [Adam] many were made sinners, so that through one man [Jesus] many will be made righteous. There is no implication of more than two groups. One group are those who put faith in the ransom sacrifice and so can be declared righteous and the other group, those who reject the ransom and remain wicked. There is no semi-righteous; no third group of ‘friends’. All have the opportunity to be made righteous and gain everlasting life as Romans 5:21 shows.

Jeremiah 33:23, 24 – What “two families” are spoken of here? (w07 3/15 11 para 4)

The reference correctly identifies the families as that of the line of David and the other the priestly line through Aaron. That can be seen from the context in Jeremiah 33:17, 18. However, the second sentence is incorrect in facts. The foretold destruction of Jerusalem had not yet taken place according to what is recorded in Jeremiah 33:1. The unrepentant Israelites were saying that if Jeremiah’s prophecies were to come true then Jehovah would be rejecting the two families and hence breaking his promise. As Jehovah stated in Jeremiah 33:17, 18, he was not going to do that. 

Digging Deeper for Spiritual Gems

Summary of Jeremiah 32

Time Period: 10th Year of Zedekiah, 18th Year of Nebuchadnezzar, during siege of Jerusalem.

Main Points:

  • (1-5) Jerusalem under siege.
  • (6-15) Purchase by Jeremiah of land from his uncle to signify Judah would return from exile.  (See Jeremiah 37:11,12 – while siege temporarily lifted as Nebuchadnezzar dealt with Egyptian threat)
  • (16-25) Prayer of Jeremiah to Jehovah.
  • (26-35) Destruction of Jerusalem confirmed.
  • (36-44) Return from exile promised.

Summary of Jeremiah 34

Time Period: 10th Year of Zedekiah, 18th Year of Nebuchadnezzar, during siege of Jerusalem.

Main Points:

  • (1-6) Fiery destruction for Jerusalem foretold.
  • (7) Only Lachish and Azekah remain of all fortified cities that had not fallen to King of Babylon.[1]
  • (8-11) Liberty proclaimed to servants in accord with 7th Year Sabbath Year, but soon retracted.
  • (12-21) Reminded of law of liberty and told would be destroyed for this.
  • (22) Jerusalem and Judah would both be made desolate.

Questions for Further Research:

Please read the following scripture passages and note your answer in the appropriate box(es).

Jeremiah 27, 28, 29

  Before 4th Year
Jehoiakim
Before Exile
of Jehoiachin
10th Year
Zedekiah
11th Year
Zedekiah or Other:
(1) When was the destruction of Jerusalem first confirmed
a)    Jeremiah 32
b)    Jeremiah 34
c)     Jeremiah 39

 

Gods Kingdom Rules (kr chap 12 para 1-8) Organized to Serve the God of Peace

The first two paragraphs are spent praising the old Watchtower Tower Logo that has become defunct with the advent of the JW.Org corporate logo.

Paragraph 3 & 4 points to the Watchtower of November 15, 1895. It highlights there were problems with just one brother taking the lead, with arguments about who should be the leader of the local congregation. There is nothing new under the sun says Ecclesiastes 1:9. That is why there was the attempt to lessen the importance of the Presiding Overseer in recent years to a COBE, (Co-ordinator of Body of Elders). This has also failed to address the problem of one elder ruling the congregation. In the Watchtower of 1895 p260 the situation was the same: “it is plain that the brother has come to feel a sort of proprietorship in the company, and he feels and speaks of them as his people, etc., etc., instead of as the Lord’s people.” When at assemblies, how often are congregations referred to as Brother X’s or Brother Y’s congregation because the congregation is identified by one man with a strong, often overbearing personality.

However, the Watchtower quote is very selective when it says “’in every company, elders be chosen’ to ‘take the oversight’ of the flock.” A fuller quote would have revealed how these elders were appointed. It was by voting. Page 261 says, “We suggest that in the matter of choosing elders the mind of the Lord may best be determined through the agency of his consecrated people. Let the Church (i.e., those only who trust for salvation in the precious blood of the Redeemer, and who are fully consecrated to him) express their judgment of the Lord’s will by vote; and if this be done periodically—say yearly—the liberties of the congregations will be conserved, and the elders will be spared much unnecessary embarrassment. If it still be deemed expedient, and so manifestly the Lord’s will, there would be no barrier to the reelection of the same elders year by year; and if a change be deemed expedient, the change could then be made without any friction or unpleasant feelings on the part of any.”

Did things remain the same? No, the clue is found in paragraph 5: “That first elder arrangement”.  So how many have there been. According to the 1975 Yearbook page 164, this arrangement lasted until 1932 when it was changed to a centrally appointed Service Director that was then widened to include all appointments in 1938. The claim to justify this change was that in Acts 14:23, ‘ordained’ (KJV), ‘appointed’ (NWT), was now understood to be by the ‘governing body’ rather than the local congregation. This remained the case until 1971 when the body of elders was re-introduced, to reduce the power vested in the Congregation Servant. Responsibilities were rotated yearly until 1983.[2]

So we have to ask the question, ‘Why, if holy spirit guides the Governing Body, has there been 5 major changes in the elder arrangement, apart from many minor ones?’ Recently in June 2014, the latest change was made that COBE’s reaching 80 years of age would have to relinquish the position. Surely, would not the holy spirit ensure the correct changes were made the first time round?

The final paragraphs (6-8) attempt to justify the claim made that “Jehovah indicated that gradual improvements would come in the way his people were cared for and organized.” The basis is a misapplication of Isaiah 60:17. The scripture talks of straight replacements or upgrades of various materials with higher quality ones. It simply does not show a step-by-step improvement. All the original materials are still there. The emphasis is on a different focus of requirements. This claim is like that of evolutionists which have a fossil and a living creature and claim because they both exist there was a step-by-step improvement between the two.

The final claim is that these improvements have resulted in peace and righteousness. Most congregations I know are far from peaceful and far from righteousness, and very often it is because of the body of elders.

Jehovah is the God of Peace, so if the congregations do not have peace then we have to conclude that either Jehovah is not directing them, or they are not following Jehovah’s direction properly, otherwise there would be peace.

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[1] Additional summary of Lachish Letters translation and background below.

[2] Organized to Accomplish Your Ministry p 41 (1983 edition)

The Lachish Letters

Background

Lachish Letters – Written at time of Jeremiah just before fall of Jerusalem to Babylon.  Probably Azekah had already fallen. Jeremiah indicates that Azekah and Lachish were two of the last cities to remain before being captured by the Babylonians (Jer. 34:6,7).

6 And Jeremiah the prophet proceeded to speak to Zed·e·ki′ah the king of Judah all these words in Jerusalem, 7 when the military forces of the king of Babylon were fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left remaining, against La′chish and against A·ze′kah; for they, the fortified cities, were the ones that remained over among the cities of Judah.”

The individual ostraca probably come from the same broken clay pot and were most likely written in a short period of time. They were written to Joash, possibly the commanding officer at Lachish, from Hoshaiah, a military officer stationed in a city close to Lachish (possibly Mareshah). In the letters, Hoshaiah defends himself to Joash regarding a letter he either was or was not supposed to have read. The letters also contain informational reports and requests from Hoshaiah to his superior. The letters were probably written shortly before Lachish fell to the Babylonian army in 588/6 BC during the reign Zedekiah, king of Judah (ref. Jeremiah 34:7[3]). The ostraca were discovered by J.L. Starkey in January–February, 1935 during the third campaign of the Wellcome excavations. They were published in 1938 by Harry Torczyner (name later changed to Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai) and have been much studied since then. They are currently located in the British Museum in London, apart from Letter 6, which is on permanent display at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Israel.

Translation of the Letters

Letter Number 1

Gemaryahu, son of Hissilyahu
Yaazanyahu, son of Tobshillem
Hageb,
son of Yaazanyahu Mibtahyahu,
son of Yirmeyahu Mattanyahu,
son of Neryahu

Letter Number 2

To my lord, Yaush, may YHWH cause my lord to hear tiding(s) of peace today, this very day! Who is your servant, a dog, that my lord remembered his [se]rvant? May YHWH make known(?) to my [lor]d a matter of which you do not know.

Letter Number 3

Your servant, Hosayahu, sent to inform my lord, Yaush: May YHWH cause my lord to hear tidings of peace and tidings of good. And now, open the ear of your servant concerning the letter which you sent to your servant last evening because the heart of your servant is ill since your sending it to your servant. And inasmuch as my lord said “Don’t you know how to read a letter?” As YHWH lives if anyone has ever tried to read me a letter! And as for every letter that comes to me, if I read it. And furthermore, I will grant it as nothing. And to your servant it has been reported saying: The commander of the army Konyahu son of Elnatan, has gone down to go to Egypt and he sent to commandeer Hodawyahu son of Ahiyahu and his men from here. And as for the letter of Tobiyahu, the servant of the king, which came to Sallum, the son of Yaddua, from the prophet, saying, “Be on guard!” your ser[va]nt is sending it to my lord.

Notes: This ostracon is approximately fifteen centimeters tall by eleven centimeters wide and contains twenty-one lines of writing. The front side has lines one through sixteen; the back side has lines seventeen through twenty-one. This ostracon is particularly interesting because of its mentions of Konyahu, who has gone down to Egypt, and the prophet. For possible biblical connections reference Jeremiah 26:20-23.[4]

Letter Number 4

May YHW[H] cause my [lord] to hear, this very day, tidings of good. And now, according to everything which my lord has sent, this has your servant done. I wrote on the sheet according to everything which [you] sent [t]o me. And inasmuch as my lord sent to me concerning the matter of Bet Harapid, there is no one there. And as for Semakyahu, Semayahu took him and brought him up to the city. And your servant is not sending him there any[more —], but when morning comes round [—]. And may (my lord) be apprised that we are watching for the fire signals of Lachish according to all the signs which my lord has given, because we cannot see Azeqah.

Letter Number 5

May YHWH cause my [lo]rd to hear tidings of pea[ce] and of good, [now today, now this very da]y! Who is your servant, a dog, that you [s]ent your servant the [letters? Like]wise has your servant returned the letters to my lord. May YHWH cause you to see the harvest successfully, this very day! Will Tobiyahu of the royal family c<o>me to your servant?

Letter Number 6

To my lord, Yaush, may YHWH cause my lord to see peace at this time! Who is your servant, a dog, that my lord sent him the king’s [lette]r [and] the letters of the officer[s, sayin]g, “Please read!” And behold, the words of the [officers] are not good; to weaken your hands [and to in]hibit the hands of the m[en]. [I(?)] know [them(?)]. My lord, will you not write to [them] sa[ying, “Wh]y are you behaving this way? [ . . . ] well-being [ . . . ]. Does the king [ . . . ] And [ . . . ] As YHWH lives, since your servant read the letters, your servant has not had [peace(?)].

Letter Number 9

May YHWH cause my lord to hear ti[dings] of peace and of [good. And n]ow, give 10 (loaves) of bread and 2 (jars) [of wi]ne. Send back word [to] your servant by means of Selemyahu as to what we must do tomorrow.

Letter 7 to 15 

Letters VII and VIII are not well preserved. The handwriting on VIII resembles Letter I. Letter IX is somewhat similar to Letter V. Letters X to XV are very fragmentary.
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 16
Letter XVI is also only a broken fragment. However, line 5 supplies us with just a portion of the prophet’s name, thus:
[. . . . i]ah the prophet.
This is not, however, any great help in identifying the prophet. So many names at that time concluded with “iah.” There was Urijah the prophet (Jeremiah 26:20-23); Hananiah the prophet (Jeremiah 28), and Jeremiah himself.    Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 17
Letter XVII, another tiny fragment, contains a few letters out of three lines of the letter. Line 3 gives us just the name:
[. . . . Je]remiah [. . . .]
It is impossible now to know whether this was Jeremiah the prophet, or some other Jeremiah.
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

Letter 18
Letter XVIII gives a few words, which may have been a postscript to Letter VI. It states:
This evening, [when cometh Tob]shillem, (I) shall send thy letter up to the city (i.e., Jerusalem).
Dr. H. Torczyner, Bialik Professor of Hebrew

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[3] All scriptures quoted as references are taken from New World Translation Reference Bible unless otherwise stated. Jeremiah 34:7 “And Jeremiah the prophet proceeded to speak to Zed·e·kiʹah the king of Judah all these words in Jerusalem, 7 when the military forces of the king of Babylon were fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left remaining, against Laʹchish and against A·zeʹkah; for they, the fortified cities, were the ones that remained over among the cities of Judah.”

[4] Jeremiah 26:20-23 :20 “And there also happened to be a man prophesying in the name of Jehovah, U·riʹjah the son of She·maiʹah from Kirʹi·ath-jeʹa·rim. And he kept prophesying against this city and against this land in accord with all the words of Jeremiah. 21 And King Je·hoiʹa·kim and all his mighty men and all the princes got to hear his words, and the king began seeking to put him to death. When U·riʹjah got to hear [of it] he at once became afraid and ran away and came into Egypt. 22 But King Je·hoiʹa·kim sent men to Egypt, El·naʹthan the son of Achʹbor and other men with him to Egypt. 23 And they proceeded to bring U·riʹjah out from Egypt and to bring him to King Je·hoiʹa·kim, who then struck him down with the sword and cast his dead body into the graveyard of the sons of the people.”