A Dire Prophecy for the Entire WorldBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
G-d spoke to Jeremiah about the kingdom of Judah in the fourth year of King Yehoyakim of Judah, which was also the first year of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. Jeremiah repeated the prophecy to the people, saying, “G-d has spoken to me for the past 23 years, but you would not listen. Prophets would come to you every morning, but you paid no attention. You were told to give up your evil ways and that if you did, you could remain safely in the land G-d has given you forever. Don’t provoke G-d by worshipping idols. But you wouldn’t listen, so G-d has said that He is sending the Babylonians to destroy the land. If you won’t carry out G-d’s will, Nebuchadnezzar will! Sounds of rejoicing will cease from Jerusalem, neither a wedding nor a bris (circumcision). The land will be empty as you serve the king of Babylonia for 70 years. At the end of this period, G-d will pay the Babylonians and the Chaldeans for their sins, making their lands eternally desolate. G-d will fulfill all the prophecies He made about those nations (recorded later, at the end of this Book). Other nations will conquer them, paying them back for their own evil.”
Jeremiah was instructed to take a cup of the “wine of wrath” from G-d’s “hand” and to give it to the nations, to drink. They will reel from it and become confused because of it. In his vision, Jeremiah passed this cup around to the various nations. Jerusalem and Judah were made desolate and an example to the nations. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and his people were struck next. Then the kings in the land of Utz (in Edom), the Philistines, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and those who remained in Ashdod. (Ashdod was partially ruined by Egypt before Nebuchadnezzar got his hands on it.) Then, the rest of Edom, Moav and Amon, Tzor (Tyre), Tzidon, and the kings of the island. (According to Rashi, the nations mentioned so far are the neighbors of Israel.) Next, Dedan (descendants of Abraham’s second wife, Ketura – see Genesis 25:3), Tema (descendants of Ishmael – Genesis 25:15), Buz, and the entire Arabian peninsula. Then Zimri (possibly another descendant of Keturah), Elam and the Medes, the kings of the north, and the rest of the nations. The king of Sheshach will be punished last. (“Sheshach” is “Bavel,” Babylonia, in At-bash, in which the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is switched with the last, the second with the next-to-last, etc. The reasons Bavel might be written in At-bash are beyond the scope of this synopsis.)
G-d tells the nations through Jeremiah to drink from this cup. They will get drunk and sick, then fall and be unable to get up because of the coming wars. If they refuse to take the cup from Jeremiah, he will tell them that G-d says to drink – if He’s bringing evil on Jerusalem, which is “the City of G-d,” do other nations expect to be excused? G-d will call loudly from the Heavens, decreeing destruction upon them. G-d has issues to settle with the nations. Evil will go forth from nation to nation, a massive storm from the ends of the world. Those killed by G-d’s decree will not be mourned or buried; they will simply lie on the ground like dung. So cry out, kings of the nations, since your days to kill one another have come and you will break like a crystal glass. The kings and their nations – here called “shepherds” and “flocks” – will not be able to escape when G-d ravages their “pastures.” Tranquil lands will be destroyed in G-d’s fury when He goes forth like a lion. The land will be destroyed by the enemy’s sword and because of G-d’s anger.