Jeremiah Loses His Temper - at G-d!By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d told Jeremiah that even if He were beseeched by Moses and Samuel, both of whom prayed for the people of their generations, He would still send this nation into exile. After they are exiled, if the nation asks, “Where shall we go?” Jeremiah is to tell them, “Some to death from the disease, others to the sword, others to the famine, and the rest to captivity.” (Each punishment mentioned is harsher than the preceding.) G-d will assign four “families” (meaning four types of punishment): the sword to kill, the dogs to drag the carcasses, and the birds and beasts to devour them. The nation will be a horror to the kingdoms of the world; all who hear about it will tremble in fright that such a thing might also happen to them. This all happened because of the evil of King Menashe of Judah, who institutionalized and promoted idolatry among the people.
Who will have pity on Jerusalem, or cry for them? Who will go out of their way to ask about their welfare? They have forsaken G-d, so they will go backwards, away from Him. He has stopped Himself from punishing them many times, but no more. Now He passes His hand over them to destroy them. G-d winnows the nation like grain, to disperse them. The widows of the nation are to G-d more numerous than the sands of the shore. G-d brings Nebuchadnezzar to Jerusalem to rob her in broad daylight. The troops of the invaders come upon her suddenly. G-d has cut off Jerusalem, the hometown of seven evil kings (see Midrash Tanchuma on Vayeitzei, cited by Rashi). Jerusalem mourns; metaphorically, the sun sets while it is still day. The survivors will be handed over to the enemy.
Jeremiah now mourns the fact that he is considered a person of contention, in that his own people despise him. G-d assures Jeremiah that He will leave him over; Jeremiah’s end, at least, will be good. The people will turn to him in the time of famine and war. Egypt (or possibly Israel) is strong like iron, but they cannot defeat Nebuchadnezzar, who is like iron plus copper. The wealth of the nation will be plundered because of their sins. The people will be given to their enemies in a foreign land because G-d’s fire is ignited against them.
Jeremiah asks G-d to remember him and to avenge him against those who pursue him. He asks that G-d not delay in doing so, as Jeremiah has allowed himself to be disgraced for G-d. He originally relished the role of being G-d’s prophet; he didn’t engage in frivolous activities. Instead, he sat in seclusion, mourning for the destruction he was shown. Jeremiah asks why he must always know such constant pain, like a wound that never heals. He compared G-d to an inconsistent spring that cannot be relied upon for water. (This was not a good thing to say to G-d.) G-d replied that if Jeremiah repented for his criticism of Him (Whose ways we really can’t know), then He would forgive him. Similarly, let Jeremiah try and take good people out of the evil people. Let them return to him, but he is not to return to them (i.e., to follow in their ways). G-d says He will make Jeremiah like a strong copper wall to the nation – make no mistake, the people will fight against him, but they will not defeat him, because G-d is on his side. G-d will see to it that Jeremiah is protected from those who wish him harm.