Silver FillingsBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
The Benjaminites are told to gather, to guard their cities, and the city of Tekoa is told to sound the shofar to warn of the impending invasion. (The choice of the city of Tekoa is a play on “tekiah,” the sound a shofar makes.) G-d says that the delicate people have been destroyed. Shepherds and their flocks – Rashi says referring to kings and their armies – will each come to feed off of a city they have surrounded. They are all prepared to battle Israel, both noon and night. G-d enables them to cut down the trees in order to build their attack positions against Jerusalem, whose sins have caused this. Evil pours forth from Jerusalem like water from a well. Correct yourselves, they are warned, before it’s too late! They will be picked clean, like a vineyard. The enemy will pass over them a second time, to make sure they haven’t missed anything.
Jeremiah asks, “Who can I warn that will listen? The people act as if their ears are clogged! They don’t want to hear G-d’s word!” This makes G-d even angrier and He is unwilling to hold back forever. He will pour His wrath out (through the invading armies) on men and women, old and young. Their houses, fields and wives will be taken away and given to others because they are all corrupt, from the smallest of them to the greatest. The false prophets eased their minds by promising them peace, but it was a lie. These charlatans should be ashamed for doing this, but they’re not. The false prophets themselves will perish in the siege.
G-d says: Stand at the crossroads and see which is the good path. If the people would do this, they’d finally have peace of mind, but they refuse. G-d places guardians over the people, sounding shofars, but they don’t listen. Therefore, the nations of the world are called to attack; they will know the evil that has been in Jerusalem. The Earth is a witness that G-d brings this destruction for violating His Torah.
G-d doesn’t need fancy spices, imported from foreign lands to be offered up as incense. The Jews’ sacrifices are unacceptable to Him. Therefore, G-d will place stumbling blocks before the nation. Both fathers and sons, neighbors and friends will trip over them.
A nation is coming from the north; they have no mercy. They roar frighteningly, like the ocean. They are armed and mounted for war. Just hearing this makes the people weak. Don’t go on the road or in the field because the enemy is there! Instead, put on the ashes and sackcloth of mourning because of the invaders.
G-d tells Jeremiah that He has made him the strength of the people. They go off in all different directions, none of them good. G-d refines Jeremiah while destroying the wicked, like a smith destroys lead while refining silver. The people are like “refuse silver,” also called “reprobate” – the kind used in fillings rather than in jewelry. No matter how hard you try, it can’t be refined.